DELHI — Building on Air India’s resources and network, fixing a gap in South America and co-locating members are among the topics discussed by Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab at the group’s annual CEB meeting here December 17.
The admittance of Air India into the Star Alliance gave members instant access to the world’s fifth-largest aviation market and one that is growing at a very fast pace, said Schwab. “For the Star Alliance, Air India fills a gap in our network that will let members serve this growing region,” he said. “We had member carriers serving India, but we needed an Indian partner. That network now has access to 94 airports and 3212weekly departures from India.”
The Star Alliance has more than 200 million frequent flyers around the world, and adding Air India gives them more opportunity to earn and use miles, said Schwab. “And we continue to work on infrastructure projects that enhance our offerings to customers,” he said. “For example, we now have a live interchange of frequent flyer miles between carriers. Before, members used to send that data after the fact.”
The Star Alliance has been working to fix the gap left in its network after Brazil’s TAM left, said Schwab. “On December 15, we added destinations on a different geography. A subsidiary of Avianca brought in service to Ecuador, which makes more flights available on the West Coast of South America,” he said. TAM left tojoin the oneworld alliance.
A year ago at its Vienna meeting, the Star Alliance announced it would be integrating Avianca Brazil, a sister company of Avianca Holdings, said Schwab. “We are well into the integration with Avianca Brazil, and will give an exact joining day soon,” he said. “TAM leaving left a gap,so we need a second carrier to replace TAM. We are in talks to do this, but it would be premature to name that carrier until the deal is resolved.”
Answering a question about space for Star Alliance carriers at Delhi’s Indira Ghandi International Airport, Schwab said that in general, he talks to airports early in the design process and beyond so they can co-locate member carriers. “Co-locating facilities helps with coordination among members and offers a better passenger experience,” he said. “The work we did at the London Heathrow Queen’s Terminal is based on that.”
But there are no active discussions to relocate Star Alliance carriers in Delhi, said Schwab. “Instead, we’re focusing on enhancing the connection experience from domestic to international and international to domestic flights,” he said.