Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Fallen Maharaja

Save the crashing plane! Air India's plead to save it from the clutches of a mega crash landing has got the Government of India stepping up to show it the light at the end of a mammoth tunnel. The Government's stand to help the airliner only if it restructures its policies needs to be appreciated. I would say it has been a self-made crisis by the airliner. It's been more than a decade that the carrier has been bruising itself repeatedly. The foray of private carriers and the steady increase in the services by foreign carriers added salt to its wound. Country-men take pride while travelling in their own airliners. I haven't seen many feeling totally comfortable having got a ticket of Air India.

Air India fails in many aspects and doesn't impress a passenger. Foremost being the outward appeal. Airways has been the pet vehicle of the rich and the semi-rich mostly. An 80's graphic art on its exterior with a yellowish background that was actually white when built a decade back doesn't impress an air passenger. Next being the interiors, extremely dull for a 21st century craft. All these ofcourse come under the aesthetic appeal and even if you aren't particular about these there still are cons. AI needs to improve what's on its menu. Mere veggie stuff and a few foreign items on its menu would leave many hungry. Another neglected but important aspect being the air-hostesses. Yes people care for their looks and every passenger wants to be greeted and served by good looking females. There's no doubt about that! AI needs a thoughful and a modern brain that answers how to attract people. Frankly speaking, most of AI's girls simply "don't deserve" to be on board(AI could take lessons from Vijay Mallya who personally chose the first set of Kingfisher's gals).

Most importantly, AI has to increase its fleet. It has to drastically shoot up its numbers to be under any of the strategically important joint alliances, such as the Star Alliance which is premier collaboration of airliners. Even the possible merger of Indian(formerly Indian Airlines) and AI would leave us with around 80 carriers. This simply is not enough to come under Star Alliance and saddest part is AI misses it not by a whisker by hundreds of miles. Singapore Airlines, for example has a fleet of around 150 which I am sure can't fit into its tiny country space if brought together and British Airways has similar numbers. We can learn from how small nations have succeeded in promoting their nation carriers like Sri Lankan Airlines(hats-off to its sexy sleek symbol), Egyptian airlines etc. It's a long way for AI before it can get traffic. Its almost a death call being made by the Maharaja and hopefully he gets his crown back.