Tiruchirapalli

Air India move to shift office upsets travel agents

Air India's move to shift its Tiruchi city office to the airport has attractedcriticism with travel agents saying the clients will be put to hardship. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Air India's move to shift its Tiruchi city office to the airport has attractedcriticism with travel agents saying the clients will be put to hardship. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj  

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A move to shift the city office of Air India to the airport has raised the hackles of the travel trade here.

The city office of the Air India functioning from a rented building near Karumandapam on Dindigul Highway, less than 2 km away from the Central Bus Stand, will be shifted within a couple of months to the airport, according to airline sources. The office has been functioning for several years here now. The move is said to be part of the cost-cutting measures of the airline. The sources indicated that the airline was set to move to the airport where additional space had been sought for the office from the Airports Authority of India.

As Air India does not operate flights from here, the office primarily serves customers of the national carrier’s low cost arm, Air India Express. Air India Express operates 21 flights a week from the city with daily flights to Singapore, Dubai, and Chennai. The flights are well patronised and are predominantly used by blue-collared migrant workers from the central and southern Tamil Nadu.

Taking strong exception to the move, G. Ravichandran, past president, Tiruchi Travel Federation, an umbrella organisation of travel, tourism and hospitality industries, said the move would affect regular customers of the airline and travel agents, who now have to travel up to the airport to avail services such as re-issue of tickets and change of travel dates.

“A majority of the customers of the Air India Express hail from the lower middle income group and they would be put to hardship due to the move. The airline’s city office generates a business of over Rs. 20 lakh a month and there is no justification for closing down the office in a profitable station,” Mr. Ravichandran said. Mr. Ravichandran alleged that the “ill advised” decision was taken during the previous Congress-led government at the Centre and the present government should review the same. Apart from having to travel a long distance to the airport, security regulations could pose a problem to the customers.

“Security is always tight at the airport and the move will only cause problems,” he said. He claimed that the airline would only paying equally high, if not higher, rent at the airport.

Expressing regret over the move, M.S. Paramasivam, chairman, Travel Agents Association of India -South Tamil Nadu Chapter, said passengers would definitely be inconvenienced by the shifting of the office.

“They would have to stand in queues in the counters at the airport and cannot expect the same convenience as in the city office,” he said.

Both Mr. Paramasivam and Mr. Ravichandran said they have planned to discuss the issue and take up the matter with the government. Mr. Ravichandran said a meeting of trade associations would be held soon to discuss the matter and decide the future course of action against the decision.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 8:24:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/air-india-move-to-shift-office-upsets-travel-agents/article6675218.ece

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