New Delhi/Mumbai: State-owned Air India has joined the largest operating grouping of global carriers, Star Alliance, and expects international revenues to expand 3-4%—up to Rs400 crore—after a complete integration of its operations with the alliance’s member airlines. It also hopes to extend reach to some 800 destinations, up from the 50 cities it touches today.

Air India, owned by the National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, left Jet Airways (India) Ltd behind in the race to join an alliance, whose member airlines carry over 455 million passengers annually or nearly a fourth of global airline traffic. That leaves Jet Airways—and Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, an ambitious Indian airline that expects to fly overseas next year—the other two major Indian carriers to select from One World and SkyTeam, the other two major airline alliances. “For us it is a big sweep. We expect an incremental 3-4% increase in annual revenue on the international sector," said Jitender Bhargava, Air India’s spokesman.

The alliance is expected to boost Air India’s brand and service quality, as also extend its global reach to 800 destinations (Ramesh Pathania / Mint)

Air India passengers will be able to redeem passenger miles on any of the other 19 member carriers, including Lufthansa AG, Singapore Airlines Ltd, US Airways Group Inc., Air Canada and South African Airways. That, said Bhargava, will make Air India a choice for travellers coming or going from India and consequently increase its revenues.

The complete integration process, only after which the alliance benefits are available to passengers, with member carriers can take anywhere between six to 12 months or longer.