Thursday, January 26, 2023

Air India has made 'quite remarkable progress' CEO airline finalising historic aircraft order

New Delhi: As the Tata group completes the first year of taking over Air India, the airline on Friday said it is finalising a historic order of new aircraft while the airline's chief Campbell Wilson highlighted that the carrier's progress has been quite remarkable.

     Stepping into the second year of Air India 2.0, Wilson, in a message to employees, acknowledged that there will be challenges along the way and emphasised that more than successes, "it is how we respond to our lapses ... that will define us".

     The airline has put in place a roadmap under Vihaan.AI for transformation over the next five years and has taken various measures, including committing USD 400 million to refurbish the interiors of its entire wide-body fleet.

     However, in recent weeks, the carrier has faced certain headwinds related to the unruly behaviour of passengers onboard two international flights and has also been penalised by the aviation regulator DGCA.

     Listing out major initiatives, Air India on Friday said it is "finalising a historic order of new aircraft to power future growth" and has added more than 1,200 professionals across key functions to upgrade capabilities.

     "Hundreds of initiatives across 22 broad work streams are underway to transform the airline over three phases: Taxi, Take Off and Climb," the airline said.

     In his message, Wilson said that while working on improvements, the airline has not shied away from other ambitious actions such as merging Air India Express with Air Asia, or Vistara with Air India, or kicking off the establishment of a new InfoTech Centre, or an Aviation Academy.

     "And that's not to mention our much talked-about short- and-medium term fleet expansion," the CEO and MD of Air India said.

     In the past year, Air India said its total operating aircraft increased 27 per cent to 100, 16 new international routes have been either launched or announced, average daily revenue has doubled and manpower at its call centre has been more than doubled, among other initiatives.

     Tata group took control of loss-making Air India from the government on January 27 last year.

     "Taken together, the progress over the last 12 months has been nothing short of stunning, even if so much of what we have been working on has been behind the scenes, building platforms and capabilities so that our future ambitions can take flight. There is of course much more that needs to be done, and everyone - internally and externally - is hungry for us to do it," Wilson said.

     Started his message by saying "Happy Friday, folks….. and Happy Anniversary, for today marks the first anniversary since Air India returned to Tata!" Wilson extended his deepest gratitude to the employees for the hard work put in over the past year.

     Noting that together they have embarked upon "one of the most ambitious turnarounds in international aviation history", Wilson said, "quite remarkable progress" has been made in a very short space of time.

     "I would especially like to acknowledge our erstwhile Air Indians who have experienced probably the most significant period of change in your entire working lives, with all the trepidation, uncertainty and adjustment that this entailed.

     "And to all of you, whether 'old' or 'new', I thank you for coming together behind this mission of national importance so quickly and constructively," he said.

26/01/23 PTI/The Week

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