Qatar Airways has approached Air India to join Oneworld alliance, a rival of the Star Alliance, assuring it of support for the membership. The offer is a sign of the swiftly mounting interest in the Indian civil aviation sector from international airlines.
While Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline alliance with 28 members in its fold which includes Lufthansa, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways, Oneworld is a smaller group with 12 active members, including American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Qantas.
Each alliance offers its members access to a network made up of all member carriers. Passengers get the option of using frequent flier miles in buying seats of any member carrier. It also gives the airline joining the alliance, passenger feed to fill its domestic network. Qatar has become the first carrier from the Middle East to join a global alliance and the joining formalities will be complete by October-end.
The proposal by Qatar is likely to be part of the discussion between Air India and Star Alliance management currently on in Frankfurt.
A senior Air India official said that Qatar had approached them to join Oneworld. “Our first preference is to join Star Alliance but we cannot wait forever to join it. In the meeting with Star Alliance, our CMD is likely to raise the Qatar offer and set a September-end deadline for the alliance to respond on inducting us,” said the official.
Star Alliance had put the proposal for Air India’s entry into on hold since July 2011 on the grounds that the airline had not fulfilled the conditions – a charge Air India denied.
According to unconfirmed reports, Star Alliance wanted both Jet Airways and Air India to join together — a proposal that was rejected by the civil aviation ministry.
The national carrier needs to join an alliance to counter the huge network the Jet and Etihad combine is going to offer after the deal between the two is complete.