Birmingham: India's national carrier Air India, the new entrant in the 27-member Star Alliance, is overhauling its systems to take India's flag carrier to the next level of the global aviation market and meet the challenges arising from the new alliance.
Pankaj Srivastava, director (Commercial) and a board member of Air India, said the airline will pull out all stops to utilise the opportunities and face the challenges that arise from the deal with the Star Alliance.
He was talking to London-based newspaper Asian Lite during the celebrations to mark the first anniversary of Air India re-launching flights to Birmingham. The Star Alliance network counts 27 member airlines, offering more than 18,500 daily flights serving 1,316 destinations in 192 countries.
"The young fleet of Dreamliners and the world-class Delhi airport as a hub can change the fortunes of Air India and the Indian aviation sector," Srivastava said, adding: "India has the potential to tap the growing global aviation market because of its cost effective systems and its access to the most populous region in the world. The addition of secondary hubs in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkatta will strengthen our network."
"Dreamliner, the fuel efficient modern aircraft, is helping us to make a turnaround. This is despite the rise in aviation fuel prices and tough competition from aviation market leaders.
"Air India nearly achieved 100 percent efficiency on punctuality in the Birmingham sector. We are expecting the delivery of two more by 2014 November and that will make us more efficient in other sectors.
"Air India's Dreamliners are now flying to destinations in the Far East, US, Europe and Australia. The alliance with the Star will provide Air India passengers access to lounges of member airlines across the world and single-ticket travel across airlines," he added.
Srivastava appealed to the Indian community across the world to come on board an Air India flight to experience the new charm of the Maharajah.
"There may be some bad experiences in the past," he added. "That has changed now. India is now one of the fastest growing economy and as its flag carrier, it is our responsibility to reflect the vibrancy of our country and the strength of our economy. We are symbolising the charm and strength of an emerging global power.
"The deal with Star Alliance is an indication of India's national carrier's new position in the global market. Within a short span of time, Air India has changed its on-board and airport services to match up with any of the international carriers in the world. We need the support of international Indians to experience the facilities we are offering and join the ever growing list of Air India customers.
"The fully functional Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport and the commissioning of the new international airport in Mumbai will provide a new travel experience to passengers," he said.
Air India Regional Manager Kailash Singh hosted a reception to mark the first anniversary of Air India re-launching flights from Birmingham. Birmingham Airport CEO Pual Kehoe, Lord Lieutenant Paul Sabapathy, Solihull Mayor Kate Wild and prominent members from the Indian community in Britain attended the function.