Tuesday, January 13, 2009

AirIndia - in news for wrong reasons

Any Monday morning, I wish a blissful start for the week to follow.  When I reached office, I was planning to spend time on a research work I am up to. It was that time, my colleague called me to help her out to take an air ticket for the coming Wednesday morning from Cochin to Mumbai. I was happy to agree as I always believed taking tickets by air is much simpler and easier compared to have a booking in road or train. All over the world, technological revolution has a profound influence in the aviation sector. Book tickets are given way to the virtual tickets even in the international routes. My impression was also same in Indian context until I venture out to explore State owned aviation sector. Of course, you can ask me why I was bothered to check state run aviation sector. Just because of the simple reason that for the last couple of days, state has spent lot of money to advertise www.airndia.in to publicise 85 % cut in the tariff. In between I was told that Air India offers the best price for that morning. Now starts my tryst with Maharaja;

 When I tried to book the ticket online, it was going to many sites; Indian, Air India, Indian Airlines; .com, .in etc then finally I could catch hold of one, I was bemused by the fact that I should know flight number before I take the tickets; is it IC or AI?? I dont know the difference. Even I don’t know the different packages offered by Indian, Air India, Air India Express and Indian Airlines. I was thinking Air India Express is a budget airline; but not so. When tried my luck in the website by clicking both IC and AI code, I found altogether different results. That time I thought I should go for a regular research on this website. After spending half an hour I found the best pricing. It seemed to be an AI code. I was so happy finding it out and took my credit card ready for booking. When I started entering the site, I learnt that I need to register myself to take ticket. Enough!!! I dont want to spend another half an hour to register in the website.

 I took an auto and went to Air India office in city. Oh my God!! it is lunch break there. No one is there in the seat. Again, I forgot that I am going to a government office. So no chance for booking between 1 pm and 1.45 pm. I waited there til 1. 45 and then realised that it disproves my belief that there will not be any que in booking counters of the airlines. Then I realised that there is a receptionist who gives token for all the needy travellers. He gave me a number and asked me to wait. It seemed that  I have to wait there for another one hour. I returned to office and later on waited for another 15 minutes to approach the counter. The passenger was of course not with me; as they asked for the identity. They wanted passport or and the number if that is the option. I am not sure about the other options. I called the passenger and took the number from him. At the end of a day long puzzle, I could manage an Air India ticket. I was thinking the amount of time and money spent during the day could have been easily avoided by spending this marginal money on any other private airline. When I was coming out, Maharaja was smiling!!!

 Note:  this is a report published in year 2000; at a time the civil aviation sector was privy to the private

 »A-I has 750 employees per aircraft, which makes it the most over-staffed airline in the world.

»A-I's average cost per employee is over Rs 5 lakh a year, perhaps highest among Indian PSUs.

»A-I has accumulated losses of Rs 1,004 cr in the past 5 years.
»One-third of A-I's aircraft is more than 20 years old.
»A-I's number of destinations have shrunk from 32 to 19 in the past 10 years.

 Usually Air India has no habit of publishing annual reports. The last one was in 2005-06. You can read it at http://home.airindia.in/SBCMS/Webpages/Annual-Report-2005-2006.aspx?MID=196# 

here comes the latest news http://www.indianexpress.com/news/indian-airports-worlds-mostdelayed-forbes/409803/