On Thursday, Air India will return to the founder Tata Group for the first time in 69 years. It is expected that the final set of documents from Ireland with regard to the transfer of ownership will be received by late Wednesday night. ‘All legal formalities for the transfer of ownership are complete. If that comes in time as is expected, then AI will be handed over on Thursday,’ people concerned with the matter told Times of India (TOI).
In the first step towards its ‘enhanced meal service’ at Air India, the Tata Group has introduced four flights from Mumbai on Thursday, officials told news agency PTI. Apparently, the changes following the ownership transfer began flowing through advisories to frontline staff that interacts with passengers. The Times of India reported that unions are opposing the rule requiring cabin crews to be checked on their weight and grooming when they report for flights.
Public to private sector transition
According to mail sent to cabin crew members, tonight marks the transition from a public sector to a private sector, and it will undergo major changes including the image, attitude, and perception over the next seven days. According to a TOI report, cabin crew members are important brand ambassadors, acting as an essential part of brand and image construction. Sandeep Verma and Megha Singhania of Tatas will head the in-flight service. In addition to welcoming passengers, they will be addressing and serving guests. It is planned to make changes to (inflight) announcements, as well as an audio address from Shri Ratan Tata.
Moreover, the crew must be smartly dressed and adhere to all regulations. ‘Grooming associates will be observing the crew for the above reasons. On-time performance is important. All endeavors to close doors at D (departure time) minus 10 minutes’, it added.
The meal service onboard will also be improved. Apparently, the caterers have been briefed and they will gradually provide the food and equipment. Delhi-Mumbai and key Gulf routes will be among the first to benefit from this rollout, along with flights to the US and UK. A handover ceremony will likely be held in the national capital soon in which top government officials, as well as Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, will be present since the AI divestiture is viewed as one of Narendra Modi’s biggest achievements.
As a result of the takeover, AI will improve meal service on flights and airline interface with crew and ground staff. Big-ticket changes like fleet and cabin upgrades, however, will still take time. As one of the biggest aviation transformations globally, Tatas will need to transform AI into a profitable airline, as their recent airlines AirAsia India and Vistara have not been profitable since inception.
The Tatas are yet to apply for an airline operating permit (license) from the regulator. The Aircraft Act gives the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) the authority to allow the Tatas to operate the airlines on an interim basis until they decide the shape of their aviation vertical. Tatas will also take over AI’s four Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Tata is yet to decide whether it will use them since each is over 27 years old and no longer used for VVIP flights.