Air India’s much-delayed entry into Star Alliance is expected to take place in June, as the international airline’s codes are now set to merge with those of domestic carrier Indian Airlines by monthend.

It has been a long road for Star Alliance and Air India, whose entry into Star has been postponed by information technology issues. Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht told Aviation Week last fall that the airline would join in summer of 2011 (Aviation Daily, Oct. 4, 2010).

While the merger of the two government-owned airlines took place years ago, they have been using independent codes. The carriers are now part of holding company Air India. The flight and IATA ticket codes of Air India (098) and Indian Airlines (058) will be merged and the two will operate as a single airline under the AI (098) ticket code.

“The merger of the codes was the most important part of the compliance for Star,” says an airline official. 

Airports Information technology specialist SITA, which was given the $190 million contract for the migration for the Passenger Services System (PSS), was initially faced with the daunting problem of integrating the airlines’ codes because “were on two parallel tracks,” he adds.

“With PSS in place, modules will need to be provided for hub control, revenue management, revenue accounting, Internet booking and loyalty programs,” an airline official says.

Unlike Jet Airways, whose frequent flyer program is integrated with those of its subsidiary carriers, Air India’s FFP must build a tier system, such as Gold and Platinum, to integrate with Star members. To do that, its FFP must first be integrated with the Indian Airlines program, which is now done.

Separately, the Ministry of Civil Aviation granted Air India traffic rights to operate a direct daily flight to Melbourne, Australia, its 34th international destination, according to a statement. Sydney is expected to follow.