Wednesday, February 09, 2022

What Does Air India Need To Do To Return To Its Roots?

Air India is entering a new phase of its journey, returning to the hands of the Tata Group, the company that made it the stalwart it once was. However, things have changed rapidly in the last three decades, and returning to its previous glory will not be easy. So what does Air India need to return to its roots?

The first step in fixing Air India will be to tackle short-term issues plaguing the airline. The priority will be appointing a new management team at the top, erasing the bureaucratic legacy that has bogged down the airline. The carrier is reportedly considering an expatriate for the job, bringing in a fresh perspective on the job.

On the ground, Tata will need to make several strides in improving service. Since changing aircraft and hard products will take months or years, the top priority will be to ensure that the ground and cabin experience is better. Those who may have flown the flag carrier in recent years know that service on Air India can be a hit or huge miss depending on your luck. So how have things changed in the last two weeks?

Tata has already leveraged its holdings in hospitality to improve onboard service. Passengers in economy class on select routes will have noticed the return to hot meal service in economy, while those on premium international flights will be offered a full spread of meal choices, something that hasn't been seen on Air India for many years.

However, creating a world-leading airline requires the (re)creation of a brand. Air India was previously known as the Maharaja (king), because of its impeccable experience. However, carriers globally have set new standards for luxury and connectivity, with the likes of Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways frequently cited as the benchmark.

Tata's new goal will be creating a new identity for Air India and convincing the public why it is the right choice. The group has struggled to do this with Vistara, but it gets a long legacy to lean on with AI. The coming months will see a development of Air India's new vision, one the industry will be closely following.

There is one group backing the new airline: the Indian public. After seeing the carrier slump under government rule, passengers are more excited than ever to see Air India reinvigorated and become a source of pride. If the Tata's can turn it around, there certainly won't be a shortage of travelers to fly the airline.

09/02/22 Pranjal Pande/Simple Flying

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