Air India is in talks with members of Star Alliance including America’s United Airlines for codeshare agreements to increase its global footprint, said people in the know.
“The airline is stepping up on its global ambitions and wants to give flyers a seamless experience of overseas travel. This is part of refurbishing the brand and product” said one of the people cited above, adding talks with United have been going on for the last few months.
When asked about talks with Air India on a code share agreement, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said there is “nothing to announce”. He was speaking on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association, Doha. Kirby didn’t elaborate.
The airline signed its last such agreement with Fiji Airways in 2019. Both Air India and United are members of Star Alliance, a 26 member global airline group whose members work between themselves to share metal, passengers and even airport amenities.
Air India is revamping its back-end ticket reservation system and transitioning from service provider SITA to Amadeus. A second person in the know said the transition is almost complete with only the airport leg of waiting to be set up. It will be completed by the end of June or July, he added.
Air India, under its new owners, the Tata group, is trying to address massive glitches in customer support and product experience even as it draws up plans for fleet enhancement. The person cited above said the airline plans to order more than 200 narrow and wide-bodied planes, that will join its fleet in the next 4-5 years. It is in advanced rounds of discussions to place an order for Airbus A350 wide-bodied and A321 narrow-bodied planes.
The Tata group took over the airline last October and has overhauled its top management as one of the first steps.
In a letter to employees, its new CEO, Campbell Wilson said the airline’s best days are yet to come. Wilson was a veteran at Singapore Airlines and the mind behind its long haul low cost airline Scoot.
“India’s potential is vast in myriad areas and you know as well as I the long-term posture and performance culture of Tata Group. You know as well as I that, in any organisation, there are areas that can be improved upon,” he said, adding he will meet as many employees as he can over the next few weeks.