To improve safety and efficiency of flights bound for Gulf destinations
The recent Air India Express crash in Mangalore has hastened a slew of measures to improve the safety and efficiency of Air India flights bound for Gulf destinations.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Arvind Jadhav, visiting Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), said a fully equipped ground engineering set-up was now being permanently established in the United Arab Emirates to ensure timely and efficient maintenance of aircraft.
“All the required inventories would be stored at this base,” Mr. Jadhav said, adding that the dependence on Mumbai for back-up support would be minimised once the facility was up and running by the end of July.
Plans were also afoot to always have one aircraft with crew on standby at prominent Gulf destinations to minimise flight disruptions.
Asked how Air India planned to improve pre-flight communication with passengers, Mr. Jadhav said a 24-hour dedicated call centre for the Gulf was now being established.
He said the first tranche of compensation of Rs.12 lakh — comprising Rs.10 lakh from Air India and Rs.2 lakh from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund — had been disbursed to 159 families affected by the Mangalore tragedy.
“One family said it wanted more time to come to India to avail compensation. We decided that the compensation would be delivered at home to this family, which resides in Dubai,” Mr. Jadhav said.
He was visiting Dubai for a conference with Air India's regional heads in West Asia.
An Air India official told The Hindu that insurance companies would now route a more substantial third tranche of compensation through the airline to the families of the victims. Efforts were also being made to provide jobs to eligible family members of the dead, either in the Gulf or in India.
Fleet being modernised
Mr. Jadhav said Air India was pruning and modernising its fleet. The company is currently flying 111 aircraft, of which 43 are new. Another 25-30 are required to fully cater to the flight requirements of the Gulf countries and to meet domestic demand.
Mr. Jadhav added that apart from purchasing new planes, the company would also lease aircraft. Of the 1,300 pilots on the company's rolls, 155 were expatriates who would be replaced by Indian pilots in the next two years.
“We may now be heading for a leaner but modern fleet so that the company is ready once again to generate profits,” he said.