AI to decide shortly on joining global alliance

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Kochi, Nov 20: Air India is mulling over which global alliance of airlines to join and a formal announcement on this will be made soon, its Chairman and Managing Director V Thulasidas said today.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Thulasidas said the national carrier would submit a report on this to the Union Government within two months.

By joining any one of the three alliances -- 'Star,' 'Sky Team' or 'One World' -- the airline would be able to offer better networking and amenities, including free tickets on foreign airlines to passengers accumulating 'frequent flyer' points, he said.

On the Air India-Indian merger, he said the process of physical integration was going on and was expected to take another 18 to 24 months.

Describing the August, 2007, merger as the ''largest in the country,'' Mr Thulasidas said while the legal aspects of the merger had been completed, the essential details of the process would take time.

A new company called 'National Aviation Company of India' had been formed and the process of integration of the network, engineering, operations and marketing was being overseen by a consultant company 'Accenture.' On the airline's fleet expansion, he said the process, started in mid-2005, would see the acqusition of 111 new aircraft by 2011, including 68 wide-bodied aircraft.

However, in view of the rapid growth of the sector, Air India had already started preparing a ''draft review'' of its requirements beyond 2012.

This was also to be submitted to the Central government within two months' time, he said.

Mr Thulasidas said Air India, which was presently operating a Boeing 787 ''Dreamliner,'' on its Mumbai-New York sector, would acquire more of these aircraft for the Gulf sector.


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