By bappaditya paul
Global airline network, Star Alliance, has identified Delhi and Mumbai airports for its Seamless Hub Project that aims at facilitating efficient and speedy service to flyers. The move comes three months after Air India became a member of Star Alliance that has 27 airlines worldwide in its fold.
“We have identified Mumbai and Delhi airports for Seamless Hub Projects. This will be implemented next year,” Star Alliance vice president, Customer Experience and IT, Mr Justin Erbacci, told a group of visiting journalists in Frankfurt. “On implementation, this will improve the quality of service to passengers at these airports and will especially ensure seamless transfers from one Star Alliance member airline to another.”
Seamless Hub Project is an initiative of Star Alliance wherein it undertakes physical survey of a selected airport and identifies both physical and technological loopholes that are a hindrance to smooth service to passengers that includes easy check-in, hassle-free security check and speedy inter/intra airline transfer of flyers and baggage. Right now, there are about 10 Seamless Hub Projects in various airports worldwide; Beijing and Bangkok are the only airports in Asia covered under the initiative.
Elaborating about the project, Mr Erbacci said: “Once we have identified the shortcomings, we seat with all stakeholders at an airport such as the airport management, operating airlines and ground handling agencies. We suggest them the changes that are required to improve passenger experience; our main focus remains on no-cost or low-cost solutions.”
The solutions may include repositioning of service desks, realigning the access route to various facilities, putting up additional airport signage or improving / repositioning the existing signage and putting in place a co-ordination mechanism for Star Alliance member airlines etc.
“A common check-in facility for all Star Alliance member airlines at the selected airport could be an additional feature of the Seamless Hub Project,” Mr Erbacci said. Of the 27 Star Alliance members, 11 airlines operate flights from Mumbai airport, while nine airlines operate flights from Delhi airport.
It takes about six to eight months to realise a Seamless Hub Project in its entirety, but some solutions could be implemented immediately after being identified. Nitty-gritty of the Delhi and Mumbai projects will be thrashed out in Star Alliance’s next Chief Executive Board (CEB) meeting scheduled in December.
Star Alliance CEO, Mr Mark Schwab, clarified that irrespective of whether there was a change in Air India leadership (read chairman-cum-managing director) or not over the next two months, the CEB would meet in New Delhi in December as scheduled.
“Mr (Rohit) Nandan has done a terrific job vis-à-vis putting Air India on the path to a turn-around. But it’s entirely the prerogative of AI owners (read the Government of India) to pick up new leadership, if they and when they want to,” Mr Schwab said when told that New Delhi was considering posting a new CMD for Air India. “Irrespective of whether there is change of guard in AI, the CEB meeting would be held in Delhi. Our agreement with AI would continue; we have very high-level of confidence on them.”
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 12 October 2014.)