Friday, January 28, 2022

Air India takeover: Tatas saddled with older aircraft, poor cabin products

Air India's new journey to return to its lost glory under the Tata Group will be fraught with issues such as older aircraft, inferior cabin products and human resources issues, but experts and its global competitors do see the airline becoming a challenger in the international space.

Currently, Air India is the largest among Indian carriers in the international skies. However, foreign airlines have a larger market share and carried more passengers than Air India till regular international flights were allowed before Covid-19.

"If the Tatas are able to rebuild the airline to its past glory, which is going to be a herculean task, there is a huge opportunity for Air India in terms of international traffic that is currently carried by various global carriers," said Suresh Nair, an aviation veteran working with various domestic and foreign airlines for over two decades. "Air India's success on the India-US routes is a clear indicator that there is a demand for direct flights on Indian airlines provided it meets the expect ..

Another airline executive said Air India needs an image makeover to attract the young fliers who constitute a large percentage of fliers, and it can be a preferred airline for Indians. Millennials make up 53% of an international airline's passengers and that number will rise to more than 60% in the next five years, said an executive of a foreign airline from the west of India.

"The needs of millennials are totally different from the kind of product and service offering that AI has to offer," the executive said. "This (attracting millennials) will mean positioning yourself as a modern, technology-driven, innovative and environmentally conscious airline rather than being seen as an old relic from the days of being a government-run enterprise." Executives said the revival of AI is easier said than done as the Tata Group does not have the kind of expertise required to turn around an airline of this size.

28/01/22 Mihir Mishra & Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

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