This was announced here by Star Alliance Services GmbH CEO Mark Schwab in the presence of Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, who told reporters that almost all the minimum requirements for joining have been met and the remaining ones would be completed by the second half of May.

The Chief Executives Board of the alliance would meet in London on June 22 or 23 for "an endorsement vote to bring Air India into the fold," Schwab said, adding a formal induction ceremony would be held in India sometime in July.

Air India would have one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners and an Airbus A-320, signifying its international and domestic operations, painted with the Star Alliance logo and livery for the launch, Nandan said.

The move would bring "immense benefits to Indian fliers from day one" as they would be able to earn-and-burn miles, gain access to over 1,000 lounges at as many airports and enjoy seamless connectivity to major cities across the globe, Schwab said.

Air India was working on a customer service improvement plan to improve its services, which would be audited by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Nandan said.

The 26-member Star Alliance currently operates over 18,000 daily flights to 1,269 airports in 193 countries. A total of 4,338 aircraft of the group fly over 640 million passengers a year.

Air India had started the process of joining the grouping in 2007, but the alliance suspended the process in 2011 on grounds that the airline would take more time to meet the minimum joining conditions due to the merger.

Asked what had changed Star Alliance's perception of Air India in these years, Schwab said, "It's a different Air India now. They went through a very tough integration (merger) process, but that is not unique to Air India as many other carriers went through a similar process.”

"Now we see a different company, a different leadership, a strong management team. A lot of work has gone into bringing the airline around and into Star Alliance."


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