New Delhi:  After much delay, Air India's formal entry into Star Alliance will be announced in Frankfurt on Sunday, paving the way for the flag carrier to become the first from this country to join the largest global interline accord among 27 airlines.

"Star Alliance will decide Air India's induction date tomorrow (Sunday) in Frankfurt at their executive board meet," an Air India official said. "We have concluded all the integration conditions set by Star Alliance."

The national carrier was extended an invitation to join Star Alliance in December 2007 in Beijing, with Lufthansa as the sponsor. But delays in software and other operational integration after the merger of Indian Airlines into Air India put paid to the plans.

The alliance members also had grand plans for the formal induction ceremony against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal, just as Egypt Air had next to the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo.

Global interline packs like Oneworld and Star Alliance entail several benefits to member carriers like improved product offering, better service standards, access to new markets and premium customers and partnership with leading global carriers.

Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines is the only other Indian carrier that is joining a global alliance - called Oneworld.
Such pacts also allow sharing of airport lounges across airports, common rewards schemes and synchronised flight schedules that will permit seamless travel for a passenger on a single air ticket, even if it requires flying several carriers on a single journey.

According to Air India, top officials designated by Star Alliance had met the senior officials of the carrier in Mumbai two weeks ago and found that most parameters for induction had been met.

Formed in 1997, Star Alliance is a consortium of 27 airlines, including Lufthansa, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Swiss, among other major airlines of the world. Its members have over 4,000 aircraft and serve 181 countries.

Currently, Air India operates flights to 63 domestic destinations and has a network of 33 international destinations with a fleet of 127, which includes Airbus A-319, A-320, A-321, A-310, A-330, Boeing 737-800, B-777 and B-747 apart from ATR-42 and CRJ aircraft.

(Agencies)