Star Alliance welcomed Air India as a full member of its global family of airlines, opening the national carrier's strong domestic network in the fifth largest aviation market to Star Alliance customers worldwide.
Air India now offers all Star Alliance customer benefits across its network and Air India's customers enjoy the same benefits when they travel on any of the other 26 Star Alliance member airlines.
"This is an important day for us. We have said for many years that we needed a strong home carrier in the Indian market and by welcoming Air India to our Star Alliance family, we have achieved this goal" said Star Alliance Chief Executive Mark Schwab. "We know that the `new' Air India is looking forward to providing the Star Alliance customer benefits to many more travellers."
Rohit Nandan, Air India Chairman and Managing Director said, "Air India is proud to be a member of this prestigious airline Alliance. From today, we open up a completely different world for our passengers, who can now travel to over 1,300 destinations right across the network and enjoy world-class service, better connectivity and seamless travel wherever they go."
Air India adds a total of 400 daily flights and over 40 new destinations in India to the Alliance network. The biggest growth will come from its home market which has up to now been served by 13 Star Alliance members flying to 10 destinations and holding a 13% market share. As a result of the addition of Air India, the Alliance's market share in India has risen to 30%. Globally, passengers further benefit from a wider choice on routes connecting North America, Europe, Asia and Australia via the Indian Subcontinent. In total the Star Alliance network counts 27 member airlines, offering more than 18,500 daily flights serving 1,316 destinations in 192 countries.
Air India now offers through check-in to the final destination for connecting flights operated by any Star Alliance member airline for both passengers and baggage, hence providing seamless travel. Passengers benefit as they do not need to collect their boarding passes for connecting flights at the transfer airports and, where permitted by local customs regulations, baggage will also be sent through to the final destinations.
Reciprocal frequent flyer benefits between Air India's Flying Returns programme and those of the existing member carriers are now activated. These provide customers with more options in earning and redeeming, upgrading and obtaining Star Alliance Gold status.
Flying Returns members who hold Maharajah Club or Golden Edge Club status now automatically also have Star Alliance Gold status, giving them access to more than 1,000 lounges across the global network. Gold status customers can also check in at specially designated counters, are offered an increased baggage allowance and receive priority boarding and baggage delivery. All these benefits are also provided by Air India to customers holding Star Alliance Gold status in other frequent flyer programmes.
Air India's network comprises 50 destinations in India and 33 internationally, serving 23 countries. The addition of over 40 unique destinations domestically offers passengers excellent connectivity between major business centres. New destinations include the industrial hubs of Aurangabad and Vadadora; Indore, which is home to many pharmaceutical producers; textiles and engineering centre Coimbatore and Jamnagar, India's "Oil City". Air India also serves popular tourist destinations such as Goa, Kochi, Madurai and Jaipur.
As part of its Star Alliance membership, Air India now participates in several of the Alliance's fare products and business solutions.
For the business travel sector, Air India flights can be included in Star Alliance Corporate Plus agreements, which are aimed at large multinational companies. For the Conventions and Meetings market, Air India will now offer Star Alliance Conventions Plus and Meetings Plus, the dedicated products for the meetings and conventions industry*.
Air India also boosts the attractiveness of the Alliance's most popular fare product, the Star Alliance Round the World Fare (RTW). Available in First, Business and Economy Class, this fare allows customers to travel around the globe making use of the 27 member airline network. Customers can now make use of all Air India flights when booking their RTW fare, either through the Book & Fly online booking tool*, via an airline or through a travel agency.
Some of Air India's flights will also be included in the Star Alliance Circle Pacific Fare which allows circular round-trips covering the Asian countries bordering the Pacific, the main international hub airports on the Pacific Coast of Canada and the USA, as well as the South Pacific (mainly Australia and New Zealand).
And finally, Air India is now included in the Asia Airpass alongside all other Asia based Star Alliance member airlines. This special coupon and mileage based fare is available to all overseas visitors to the region travelling on a Star Alliance member airline and allows customers to travel around Asia, selecting from a total of 277 destinations.
*Note: Book & Fly, Meetings Plus and Conventions Plus will be updated to include all Air India flights during the month of July.