Indian Government admits to being partisan to Lufthansa

I was just about to shut my laptop after writing my last post on the Air India – Star Alliance wriggle. But I just happened to note a new news report from The Economic Times, which also got a soundbyte from the aviation minister of India at the same place Reuters got its news from. For posterity sake, rather than quoting the article, let me leave a screenshot, because stories can be refiled online after an intervention.


Now, let me quote the relevant bits:

Civil Aviation minister told media that Lufthansa, which is the founding member of Star Alliance, was given a lot of benefits to ensure that Air India joins the grouping.

“I believe a lot of facilities were given to the airline (Lufthansa) so that it would mentor Air India to join Star Alliance. They were given a lot of flights, it was made almost open skies for them. Now we are going to talk to Lufthansa to adhere to the plan we had,” Singh said.

I am aware that airlines need a mentor to get into an alliance, who will use their own experience to prepare them for the alliance, but some of this, if true implies two things:

  • Air India was not good enough to be touched on its own merit so the Government of India had to bend backwards to get someone to mentor it.
  • The Government of India, being the interested party, and the owner of Air India, gave away national property (bilateral rights to fly) bringing in a lot of Lufthansa flights to India, just to ensure Air India got into the alliance.

Err, if the second inference is true, would GoI similarly give away bilaterals to allow Jet Airways to be mentored as well??

Do you think I am thinking right here, or did I get this all wrong. Tell me people…

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  1. Instead of just begging LH to join Star, GoI should offer some incentives – like open skies and free-for-all A380 access for LH.

  2. The CAG had questioned excessive granting of bi-lateral rights to many airlines, EK, QR, and LH during the Praful Patel regime. The time frame Mr. Singh is referring to, is that very period under CAG scrutiny. Has Mr. Singh just confirmed the malfeasance of Praful Patel?

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