It has been an eventful few weeks for Air India.
India’s national airline is currently saddled with approximately $7 billion of debt. One of the primary objectives of the current government was to sell the debt-laden airline to private players. However, when the government put up its stake in the airline up for sale a fortnight ago, no bidders came forward.
Realising that there were no takers, the government has now put the sale on hold, and instead decided to introduce changes aimed at improving appearance, service and overall in-flight experience. However, you’ll have to have very deep pockets, since most of these changes, for the time being, are limited to the airline’s first class and business class segments.
Earlier this week, Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation announced the launch ‘Maharaja Direct’, its latest attempt at revamping the experience of business and first-class passengers on long-haul international flights to attract high-end travellers and raise the occupancy from 60 to over 80% starting Friday, reports News 18.
Here are five things you should know about it:
1. One should expect a complete overhaul in ambience, upholstery, woollen blankets and night kits.
2. New varieties of exotic cuisine, along with new uniforms “with a subtle western touch” for the cabin crew will be introduced, reports the Times of India.
3. “Existing first-class and business-class seats in its fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft flying to destinations such as the US would be upgraded by July-end, while the upgradation of the Boeing 787 aircraft, which mostly fly to European destinations, will take another month,” said Pradeep Singh Kharola, Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), to News 18. These planes operate short and long-haul international routes.
4. This entire endeavour aims to establish the airline’s reputation as one that is ‘more customer-focussed with enviable service’. With these changes, the government hopes to attract more customers, thus improving upon the 17% market share it currently holds on international routes.
“It has over 2,500 international prime-time slots per week spread across 43 overseas destinations,” reports the TOI.
5. The government hopes to generate additional revenue of Rs 1000 crore per annum from these premium classes.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)