Archive for October 18th, 2007

New Air India Merging Towards Star Alliance

India being the second most populated country in the world once had two big state owned airlines: Air India and Indian Airlines. The merger of the two airlines was approved by Indian state authorities earlier this year at the end of August, when the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued its final approval to the application, thus establishing the new National Aviation Co. of India Ltd. that will fly under the Air India name.

Air India Logo

The merger of Air India and Indian will provide an integrated international and domestic footprint, which will significantly enhance customer proposition and allow easy entry into a global airline alliance,” the government said. “The merged airline has given them the opportunity to unlock significant synergies on account of optimal utilization of resources through improvement in load factors and yields on commonly serviced routes as well as deployment of ‘freed up’ aircraft capacity on alternate routes.

The merged carrier will operate a fleet of 112 aircraft, including seven new 777s, 10 A320 family aircraft and four 737-800s introduced this year. The parent company will comprise the mainline (Air India), an LCC called Air India Express, Air India Cargo (which is in the process of acquiring 737 and A310 converted freighters and plans to be operating 10 aircraft within the next year), and ground handling and MRO divisions that will “gain increased focus on the merged entity,” the government said. Each will be managed as a separate unit.

Only one week after the approval of the merger, the new Air India’s board voted to join Star Alliance, according to the United News of India news service and The Economic Times. A formal announcement about Air India’s entry into Star Alliance is expected in December 2007, highly-placed Indian civil aviation ministry sources said – according to The Economic Times. The agreement would come into effect early next year, enabling Air India to provide seamless connectivity to its passengers across the networks of all Star Alliance partner airlines. However, no other details were revealed, and neither the airline nor the alliance issued a statement.

With most of the European, American and Far-Eastern carriers being already enrolled in an alliance the markets left without proper alliance coverage include China, India, Russia, the Middle-East and Africa. India will now be Star Alliance territory, while they will soon have two members in Africa (South-African Airways and Egyptair as AirlineWorld reported yesterday) and also two Chinese carriers are bound to join Star in the mid-term. SkyTeam currently seems strong in Russia and also has a Chinese candidate, while oneworld has Dragonair operating in China as an associated member, but on the other hand has the only Middle-East airline alliance member: Royal Jordanian. It will be interesting to see where the big Russian carriers, the big Chinese carriers and the rest of the African and Gulf Region carriers will join in.

by balint01


IATA Urges for a Greener Globe

Cannes – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) challenged governments to put aside politics and join industry in delivering real results to further improve air transport’s good environmental performance. The challenge was delivered by IATA’s Director General and CEO, Giovanni Bisignani at the World Air Transport Forum in Cannes, which is focused on sustainable development.

“Airlines are leading the debate on environment with a vision to become carbon neutral in the medium-term and zero carbon emissions in the long term. We are setting the benchmark on environmental performance for other industries to follow,” said Bisignani.

IATA’s 240 member airlines agreed a four-pillar strategy on climate change:

1. Invest in new technology
2. Build and use efficient infrastructure
3. Operate planes effectively and
4. Consider positive economic measures while working with  governments to define an emissions trading scheme that is fair, global and voluntary.

“The strategy is not just words. We have delivered real results,” said Bisignani. In 2006, IATA’s fuel campaign saved six million tonnes of CO2 by shortening 350 routes; eight million tonnes of CO2 by working with airlines on best practice in fuel management; and one million tonnes of CO2 through better operational procedures.

“We cannot do it all on our own – governments must be involved,” said Bisignani. All 179 states attending the recent triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization endorsed the IATA four-pillar strategy, including a  target to improve fuel efficiency 25% by 2020.

“Our biggest disappointment was with the European States. They are taking a completely political and totally irresponsible approach by unilaterally pursuing emissions trading rather than taking a global approach. This will cause diplomatic trade battles, but will do nothing for the environment,” said Bisignani.

Specifically, Bisignani criticised Europe for the 12 million tonnes of CO2 wasted each year from the inefficiency of its air traffic management system, comprising 34 air navigation service providers. “Europe has been discussing a Single European Sky for 15 years, wasting a lot of hot air in discussions, with no action. On the environment it is acting like a hypocrite: charging for airline emissions without fixing the mess in its own air traffic management.”


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