Friday, July 28, 2017

After Gaikwad-Air India row: No more single-class planes, AI to reconfigure 14 aircraft

New Delhi: The absence of a business class section on an all-economy aircraft was at the heart of the Air India’s high-decibel altercation with Shiv Sena’s Member of Parliament Ravindra Gaikwad in March this year. Air India, which at the time went on to ban Gaikwad from flying as proof of its resolve to penalise unruly behaviour by air passengers, has now decided to reconfigure all of its single-class narrow-body aircraft in order to introduce the business class option in each of them, a senior company official said.
To do this, the flag-carrier would convert the first three rows of the all-economy class aircraft to business class by having 12 seats in a configuration of two-by-two, compared with three-by-two in the current configuration that add up to 18 economy seats. The official said that of the 14 aircraft, Air India has already reconfigured the seat layout of five. Of the remaining nine, three are leased planes, for which permission has been sought from lessors to go ahead with the exercise. “We expect the approval from the lessors to come soon, and the whole exercise of converting all the 14 aircraft will be completed by the end of this month,” he added.
When contacted, Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar confirmed the development. “We have 14 aircraft, which are with all-economy seats. Our business class passenger group is increasing rapidly, so we decided to convert first three rows to business class,” he said.
The official quoted earlier said that to remove and install new seats, Air India would have had to get a nod from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which would have taken time. To complete the process sooner, instead of removing the economy class seats and installing business class seats, the airline is simply putting armrests on the middle seat and putting a seat and cloth over the remaining part of the middle seat and aisle, or window seats.
28/07/17 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express