Those ineffable VIPs

Updated: Jul 31 2007, 03:40am hrs
Once again, it is all about new. This time, airplanes. The new Air-India, which also includes Indian Airlines and Alliance Air, and already had some seven different aircraft liveries among them, recently announced an eighth onewhich many of us will be forgiven for thinking resembles Kingfishers. Jet Airways has also announced its new paint schemes and brand changes, as well as something called JetLite, which turns out to be nothing but good old Air Sahara birds in three different paint-schemes, which again were made fun of by Kingfisher. And Air Deccan, of course, now is the new Kingfisher lite. And the new Airbus 321 at Air-India is called VT-PPA, after guess who

So, does that mean things are really going to change with aviation in India, and we are going to see new (read: improved) realities for the larger public good Check this: last week, I was on an airplane (brand new Airbus-320, VT-INK from Indigo, on its first revenue flight), from Bangalore to Delhi via Pune and Nagpur. On board with us in seat 1-A was none other than the bespoke and dapper minister for civil aviation.

The cabin crew were radiant with joy because this meant no delay on arrival (flights with a minister on board get to break the queue anywhere in India), andthe commander (one Captain Swaroop), who had been totally quiet for the first two legs, was now going on and on with inane comments, even as a few gentlemen buttonholed the minister for the full journey.

Then, on arrival, where we got the best bay, next to the arrival hall,a fleet of three cars moved across the line of a yet-not-stationary aircraft, and I saw a ladder come up in record time. The good minister was off like Puff the Magic Dragon, from a fancy little side gate that the authorities have kept just so that the ministers never have to suffer the strain of this orrible airport. And the rest of us Once the minister left, the usual chaos set in. We were left to fend for ourselves, and once I got my baggage, I found that the Delhi Traffic Police had made the pre-paid taxi service even worse than before through the idiotic mechanism of assigning specific taxi numbers to specific coupons. Only thing was, some of those taxies didnt exist, and some of the coupons went adrift.

Whats new with aviation in India Nothing much. Ministers inaugurate new planes. Sycophancy rules the skies. The planes just look different in their new liveries.