New Delhi: State-owned Air India Ltd will join the Star Alliance grouping on 11 July, according to a person with knowledge of the development.

The Star Alliance board, a group of 23 of the world’s biggest airlines, met in London on Monday to vote on the proposal of Air India’s entry into the prestigious club, the person who declined to be named said.

Air India chairman Rohit Nandan, who was in London to attend the Star Alliance board meeting, could not be immediately reached for a comment on the development.

Air India and Star Alliance did not offer any formal comment on the matter but Air India in a statement said an official announcement will be made on Tuesday in the Capital by civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Nandan will attend the event in Delhi.

The person cited above said the airline will join the alliance on 11 July and one of Air India’s Airbus A320 will be painted in Star Alliance colours for the event.

A new Air India Boeing Dreamliner will also be painted in Star Alliance colours to be showcased to the world in what will be more than a year-long campaign.

The gap between the formal announcement date of 24 June and the date of induction has been kept to ensure that all passengers benefit from Air India’s entry into the Star Alliance grouping from the first day itself.

Ironically, the induction of Air India into the alliance coincided with the anniversary of the day a bomb exploded mid-air on an Air India flight operating on the Montreal–London–Delhi route. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in Irish airspace on 23 June in 1985.

Joining the Star Alliance will allow Air India passengers to use Star Alliance’s facilities such as airport lounges, fly on a network of 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries, and redeem air miles on airlines such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Singapore Airlines Ltd, Air China Ltd, Air Canada, United Airlines Inc., Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways.

“Air India gains partners making it easier to coordinate schedules to optimize connection and to integrate itself into a much larger network," said Steve Forte, a former chief executive of Jet Airways (India) Ltd. “The biggest benefit is the marketing power that allied airlines exert over passengers. Melding frequent flyer programmes keeps passenger in the group as they can freely earn and redeem miles among members."

Air India is the first airline to join any alliance from India. Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, which was to join OneWorld, the second-biggest airline alliance after Star, was grounded in 2012.

Nearly 37 million international passengers travel to and from India in a year. Indian airlines, including Air India and Jet Airways, have a 33% share of this international traffic, while 17% is with West Asian airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia. Star Alliance has a 13% share of international traffic, while rivals OneWorld and SkyTeam have 8% each. The rest is with other international airlines that are not members of these groups, Mint reported on 28 August, citing an internal presentation discussed by Star in its June 2013 board meeting.

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