Sending out a stern message against employees’ lapses, Air India chief Rajiv Bansal has said the airline will “act on those who fail to act” in ensuring on-time flights.Taking over the reins of the disinvestment-bound national carrier less than two weeks ago, Bansal has initiated steps to cut down costs at various levels along with focus on bettering on-time performance (OTP), increasing passenger yields and improving customer satisfaction.
The airline, which operates nearly 400 flights everyday, has been facing flak for delays.”We will affirmatively act to improve our performance and we will act on those who don’t act,” Bansal told PTI in an interview.The chairman and managing director of the airline stressed that whatever action is required will be taken with respect to ground handling, crew, in-flight, engineering checking and food supplies, among other aspects.”We are working on that actively to ensure there are no delays. I will act on those who fail to act,” he said, adding that the message has been conveyed to those down the line.
Air India has some “very good time slots”, but if the flights do not operate on time, then the value of the slot is lost, Bansal said.The OTP of Air India’s domestic flights from four metro airports stood at 65.5 per cent in July, way lower than many other local carriers, according to official data. Asserting that there will be zero tolerance for flight delays due to issues of ground handling and technical glitches, he said these are matters internal to the company.”There are around 400 flights a day and I cannot focus on each of them, but my first priority is to look at the first flights of the day from Delhi and Mumbai. I am trying to push for better OTP round the clock,” he made it clear.
Apart from running the airline profitably and ensuring better OTP, two other key priorities for Bansal are increasing passenger yields and improving customer satisfaction.”We plan to invest in technological upgradation in the fare management system. That is the pricing tool. I am doing it both in Air India and Air India Express, where I have much larger market share,” he said.
Air India Express is the low-cost international arm of the carrier and a major player on Gulf routes.On how the employee morale would be kept high amid the government working on the modalities of stake sale, Bansal acknowledged that there is “obviously uncertainty” even as he said there is a general feeling that divestment would not necessarily lead to job cuts.”It might lead to an improved airline that performs better. Those who are doing their job well, I think their jobs are not at risk,” he added.
The Air India chief also cited examples of privatisation of Delhi and other airports, saying it was a pleasant surprise that those who were doing good, in fact, got better remuneration. A senior IAS officer, Bansal had worked with the civil aviation ministry during 2006-08 — when it saw privatisation of the Delhi airports as well as the merger of Indian Airlines with Air India. The national airline, which has more than Rs 50,000 crore debt burden, eked out an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2016-17.