Air India flying with colors

AIR IND-webAir India takes this opportunity to salute its women colleagues, who have, in their respective areas of operations, proved over the last few decades that the hands that rock the cradle can actually propel an airline to soar high as well. Like every year, this year too Air India operated ten domestic and international flights with an all-women cockpit and cabin crew on March 8.

Air India’s foray into all-women crew flights dates back to November 1985 when Capt. Saudamini Deshmukh and Capt. Nivedita Bhasin operated a Fokker Friendship flight from Kolkata to Silchar in eastern India.

For most of these commemorative flights, the technical services have been attended by a woman aircraft engineer, a lady flight dispatcher, while the non-technical work on ground has been handled by a lady duty manager, a female helper, a lady medical doctor.

Women have been contributing to Air India’s success working with confidence, commitment, and a sense of pride. Air India provides equal opportunities to women in key areas of its activity including specialized technical areas and senior management. Women pilots, flight dispatchers, technical officers, aircraft engineers, safety and quality auditors, ground instructors for training pilots etc all form part of a highly skilled technically proficient team of women.

Air India has been facing financial turbulence due to global economic slowdown that has adversely affected the aviation industry for nearly a decade. The horizon now has a silver lining as several economies have started picking up slowly. Within Air India, hard work and resilience from employees and support from loyal customers has started to bear fruit.

With Government of India setting targets under the Turn Around Plan (TAP) and Financial Reconstruction Plan (RFP) Air India’s performance has been in line with the targets set registering an all-round enhanced performance, such as on-time performance at 85 per cent, higher passenger load factor and higher yields. Yet, this is just the beginning, and they have miles to go to achieve the mission of making Air India – the natural choice of all passengers.

The Government’s Economic Survey 2012-2013 has reposed its faith in Air India’s performance, saying that the company has turned EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) positive in the financial year 2012-13, for the first time since the merger of Air India with Indian Airlines in 2007. Improved operating profits for the financial year 2013-14 are being targeted.

The Indian Government on behalf of the people of India has recently approved the infusion of further Equity to the extent of $ 1billion during the financial year 2013-14. This would result in an improved net worth and Debt/Equity ratio. It is to be noted that total equity infusion in combined Air India was under $37million in today’s exchange rate when nationalized in 1953. On this base, two airlines were built with no further equity infusion till recent years making it one of the most under-capitalized companies in the aviation industry.

Several national goals of furthering international trade, economic and political ties were achieved. Domestic operations to the remotest corners and economically backward regions were facilitated for development and growth in keeping with national policies. More than a dozen political evacuations were organized including the largest civilian evacuation by air in history of over 111,000 people during the Gulf crisis.

The present initiatives of continued cost cutting and rejuvenated efforts of improving revenues would continue aggressively. Focus on improving service in every area of operation will be the driving force. The loyalty and support of Indians settled globally will be needed to achieve complete turnaround and restore national pride.

For the benefit of patrons, Air India has come up with very competitive fares under the advance purchase (apex) scheme in Business Class and special fares for Senior citizens in the US and India markets. In India the recently launched 60 day Jaldi Jaldi offer is aimed at attracting the leisure and holiday travelers. These competitively priced fares are comparable to the air-conditioned AC class fares of Indian Railways for summer vacationers to plan their trip in advance. These new initiatives will spur growth in air travel and invigorate the Indian market.

For growth Air India plans to expand their global network through new services to Italy, Russia, Australia and a second airport in UK, besides adding to domestic services within India.
Rishikant Singh is Air India Manager-Midwest

Rishikant Singh

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