Air India gets 26-point agenda from Minister

Air India A 320 Aircraft in Satr Alliance livery unveiled at IGI Airport in New Delhi. A file photo: Ramesh Sharma

Air India A 320 Aircraft in Satr Alliance livery unveiled at IGI Airport in New Delhi. A file photo: Ramesh Sharma  

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has stepped in to assuage the fears of a clutch of international airlines who recently admitted Air India to their ‘Star Alliance’.

These international airlines admitted Air India after a tough evaluation process and are apprehensive of promises not being kept after Air India Chief Rohit Nandan was given a three-month extension as against two years sought by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

With the Alliance even writing a formal letter to the Ministry in which it said “it is important for Air India to have continuity in ensuring that the alliance promises are delivered consistently to meet expectations of alliance customers,’’ but the Prime Minister’s Office approving a three month extension within which the selection of a new chief should be completed, Mr. Raju opted to be proactive.

In a 26-point list of instructions sent to Air India, the Civil Aviation Minister has chosen to tread where others have opted for caution such as giving his take on the age of the cabin crew. Mr. Raju has asked for the cabin crew age to be maintained on par with the best competing airlines while those who have crossed this threshold should be drafted for ground services.

With the entry of Vistara, the full-service Tata-SIA venture, Mr. Raju is also keen that Air India’s higher end seats should not go unoccupied. He is in favour of a scheme that enables vacant upper class seats to be filled up to give customers a taste of the higher end comfort that Air India has to offer. One option is to sell unfilled First Class and Business Class seats at a discount a few hours before the flight takes off.

The Minister has also touched on customer-interface issues where the standard complaint against Air India has been of apathy and neglect. Taking note of passengers complaining of boring and unimaginative entertainment and of malfunctioning in-flight entertainment systems, he has called for remedial measures.

One area where Air India’s image takes a sudden dip is when passengers are left to fend for themselves in case of a flight delayed due to a technical snag or bad weather. Mr. Raju has called for a system of leadership and coordination so that passengers are given proper information and due hospitality. And there are a number of homilies on courteous behaviour to passengers.

While giving the Air India chief a three-month extension, the Government has asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to complete the search for his successor within this time-frame.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 8:13:23 PM |

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