Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Air India To Join Star Alliance By March Next Year

Travel/Distribution Systems
Aviation Daily May 17 , 2010 , p. 08
Neelam Mathews

Air India will become a member of the Star Alliance by March 2011, Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director of AI told The DAILY at the joining ceremony of TAM Airlines in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Air India was invited by Lufthansa to join the alliance in late 2007 as merger issues between its two airlines pushed the carrier to join earlier than planned.

“Information technology integration has been a major challenge. Star has over 80 requirements, most of which have been fulfilled. We expect to get a single code by October,” says Jadhav. Integration of systems between Delhi and Mumbai will follow.

"Implementation of the Passenger Services System will complete the merger of Air India with former domestic carrier Indian Airlines and enable us to align processes and systems to meet Star Alliance standards," says Jadhav.

Last month, the National Aviation Company of India (NACIL), parent of Air India, awarded a $190 million contract over 10 years to IT specialist SITA to provide its hosted Horizon Passenger Services System (PSS) on a turnkey basis.

The contract, which stipulates setting up a single airline code for Indian Airlines and Air India in 300 days, will help the carrier enter the Star Alliance as a full-time member.

In addition to the core PSS suite, SITA will implement an online booking engine, departure control system, check-in and automated boarding control, baggage reconciliation system and a frequent flyer program.

"The aggressive timeline will pose a big challenge. It's like a heart transplant scenario. It is an ambitious project, but is doable," Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA director-South Asia, told the The DAILY recently.

The two airlines currently run on two different systems — Speedwing for Indian Airlines and Unisys for Air India — which will need to be integrated for a seamless migration to proceed.

Air India is also looking at announcing soon joint marketing with EgyptAir for a code share between Delhi and Cairo that currrently has no direct flights.

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