Nearly four years after the two national carriers were merged, Air India and Indian Airlines flights will finally share a common flight code.
The IC code, which originally belonged to Indian Airlines and is now used for most domestic flights of Air India, will not be used anymore from next month. All Air India flights will now have the AI code.
A same code was one of the main conditions of the merger of the two airlines but that never happened. Even now when the two airlines are one entity on paper, they function as separate airlines for all practical purposes. At the airport, there are separate counters for the AI and IC flights and separate software is being used to process tickets for the flights.
“Very soon, all Air India flights will be identified by the AI code,” said an Air India spokesman. “For passengers, this would mean quicker check-ins at the airport and a completely seamless journey,” he added.
The switch over to a single code was expected to start from January 29 but might get delayed by a week. The trial runs for the process are already on. A single code is also a requirement for Air India’s entry into the Star Alliance of global airlines, which has 27 member airlines at present.
Members of the alliance can share each others code and passengers can travel by different airlines with a single ticket. The member airlines of Star Alliance include Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Continental Airlines.
The flight codes are provided by the International Air Transport Association and Air India has already informed airlines and airport organisations across the world about the single code. The airline is now busy upgrading its software and changing ticket stocks with its agents and offices. As soon as the airline is officially ready for the switchover, passengers will be informed.
“The switchover will happen by the end of January or next month and for passengers, Air India will be one airline for all practical purposes,” said a senior airline official, wishing to remain anonymous.