Air India may still have a shot at becoming an awesome airline, and that one is all thanks to joining the SkyTeam ***drum beats*** 😉
I am sure the people at Air India’s helm are watching a lot of “How I Met Your Mother”, and decided to act awesome in line with the Bro Code. After being embarrassed by the Star Alliance, who AI took 4 years to ‘comply’ with the membership conditions of, and then *A leaving them alone at the altar, the news reports are now talking of SkyTeam talking to the Government of India about inducting Air India into their alliance. Speculations were ripe about this as early as the beginning of August, as per the Centre for Aviation analysis early August. This finally was confirmed first by the Indian Express group earlier this week, and from the looks of it, may be good fit from the network coverage perspective for AI/ST. That is why I say they act awesome.
Air France has some coverage into India which it uses to drive traffic into CDG, while Delta has a flight into Mumbai, which it codeshares with KLM to drive some traffic into India from the USA as well as AMS. On the eastbound too, the coverage is thin, and this vacant spot is which AI can fill. The world’s second largest alliance, which is also a collection of some other awesome ( 😛 ) airlines such as Delta, Garuda, et al. Not to mention, with the largely disintegrated alliance where you don’t really have to bother aligning to a service quality standard or frequent flyer program offerings, this fits well because AI can just walk in without having to do much (except get Boeing to repaint those SkyTeam logos rather than the Star Alliance logos which they had started to put on the B787s!)
SkyTeam had apparently courted AI in 2002 also, when it was a decently good airline of international repute, as per these threads. Also, I don’t think there will be acceptability issues like at *A because a majority of the CEOs on the table know they are swimming naked. And yes, this will be a good opportunity for the Delta frequent flyers to get on a good plane and get some good service, and still get to earn skypesos for it! I have had feedback very frequently that the BOM-NYC services from AI are very good, in spite of whatever else is transpiring at the airline.
So what does this mean for Indian aviation? Two things are clear, the much fussed about JV invitation to 9W (Jet Airways) to join Delta-KLM-AirFrance triangle may be a no go already, and the Nomad’s fears about 9W going to SkyTrash may be unfounded.
Here is hoping AI and SkyTeam have found their match and say ‘I do’ pretty soon! Amen to that!