Star Alliance and Jet Airways – 3rd time lucky?

I don’t know if the timing of this bit of news was timed such, but the formal announcement of Jet Airways seeking Government of India’ permission to join the Star Alliance came out in the open exactly a year after Air India’s joining the alliance was put on hold. A news report published in the Mint (an editorial collaboration with the WSJ) last night puts out in the open what has been long known to be Jet Airways’ and Star Alliance’s secret ambition.

After Air India’s attempts to join *A faulted and Kingfisher Airlines shrunk rapidly to keep out of oneworld, this is the third attempt of an Indian carrier to join an airline alliance. A meeting between Jet Airways and Star Alliance held in March 2012 seems to have kicked off the process formally after years of discussion. I quote a bit of the letter written by Star Alliance CEO Michael Schwab to Jet Airways from the news report:

I am writing following our last week meeting to confirm the interest of our members in naming Jet Airways in Star Alliance. Our members feel that the membership of Jet Airways in Star would be of mutual interest to them and Jet Airways, evidenced by the continuing discussions over several years. We trust that you share the same view

It further goes on to ask Jet Airways to confirm their interest formally so that their name can be sent to the CEO Board of *A for approval.

To move this along, I would invite you to confirm the interest of Jet in joining Star Alliance, which we would take to the chief executive board for final approval and following which, we would establish project teams to manage and drive integration process

Jet Airways, in line with this move, has now sought the formal approval of the Government by writing to them on 16th of July 2012.

In order to build the right global partnership and to support our future expansion plans, Jet has been evaluating the potential of joining a global alliance. We are pleased to inform you that we have made the decision to join Star Alliance.

We request ministry approval to join Star Alliance. This would allow us to complete the comprehensive integration process as soon as possible in order to be better prepared for our planned international expansion.

Will it work?

If this article published in the ET is to be believed, the current aviation minister in India is a very progressive man, who likes to take objective decisions rather than hang on to the past (AI). I like the fact that for the first time a rational decision was taken to get Air India to step aside from hogging all the rights to fly around from India and let other airlines take those rights as well.

Network planning:

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One look at Jet Airways’ current network shows it flies into many a Star Alliance hubs, and uses one of them as its own scissor hub in Europe. Jet Airways flies into New York (JFK/EWR), Brussels (BRU), Singapore (SIN), Bangkok (BKK), Toronto (YYZ), all of which are Star Alliance carrier hubs. It has also filed this year to launch several flights to Germany (Munich/MUC), indicating serious interest from Jet Airways to align with the German carrier Lufthansa’s hub as well.

There has been a lot of chatter about Jet Airways considering to move its scissor hub from Brussels to FRA/MUC, but if this will happen or not is something I am not entirely sure of yet. My thought process is, why fix it if it is not broken? From BRU itself, Jet has the capability to fly on its own metal to YYZ and EWR. It recently withdrew from the BRU-JFK flight, but could then codeshare on the recently launched Brussels Airlines flight going forward.

So, there is a lot of synergy with at least 6-7 Star Alliance carriers already. Additionally, Jet will be able to service almost all the following carriers’ incoming traffic into India who are a part of the Star Alliance network:

  • ANA
  • Ethopian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • Swiss
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United

The new Airbus 330’s expected to be delivered later in the year should help increase coverage with some more destinations added to the schedule. Though this may also mean that Jet Airways will discontinue its partnerships with some other carriers affiliated to Skyteam and Oneworld, but that is a big maybe yet. I am not aware of conditions of alliance membership which restrict member airlines to be doing business with other carriers as well.

Network Partners:

One of the smart things Jet Airways has done over the years has been to enter into airline partnerships with multiple carriers. It has been seen as in bed with airlines across the alliances. Here is where it comes handy because it already has arrangements to market its flights with the following Star Alliance carriers:

  • ANA
  • Austrian
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United
  • US Airways

This means some of the key Star Alliance airlines are already on board and can Jet Airways and these airlines can go onstream with an alliance plan sooner than it would have taken with Air India for instance (only arrangements AI ever had was with SQ and LH).

Frequent Flyer Program: Since Jet Airways already has a partnership with some *A carriers, its systems are attuned to processing these carriers. Also, this gives something to look forward to for Jet Airways members who will no longer be restricted to 9W’s own FFP to earn and burn JetPrivilege miles. This should be a big shot in the arm for the members who saw a renewed program in 1Q2012 but still something is amiss in the program.

So there we are, with the heir apparent of Indian aviation finally making its preferences clear on airline alliances. Lets see if they get lucky this time around or not. Or will 9W be a prey to Government of India’s tit for tat approach. What do you think will happen?

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. Jet Airways entry into *A shall be a big benefit for travellers across the globe, especially when redeeming reward tickets to destinations inside India where none of the foreign airlines go.

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