Just ahead of the official handover, Tata Group will introduce a new service in Air India flights.
First Flights Receiving Service
The “enhanced meal service” will be provided in four flights operating from Mumbai on Thursday.
They are AI864 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI687 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI945 (Mumbai-Abu Dhabi) and AI639 (Mumbai-Bengaluru).
It will also be available on the international Mumbai-Newark flight and five Mumbai-Delhi flights on Friday.
Bringing Back Old Traditions
The airline had a history of elaborate meal services in its first class but these had to be scrapped due to financial limitations.
Devised by the Tata Group officials, the service will roll out in more flights in a staggered and phased manner.
Another feature that was discontinued due to the pandemic and may return is trolley service for liquor and newspapers.
Improving On Time Performance
Changes in menus or wider variety in beverages can also be expected.
Also returning from the pandemic is the provision of duvets, blankets, pillows, linen and hot towels onboard.
The Tatas are further planning to improve punctuality by having the aircraft door close 10 minutes before departure time.
The airline has the poorest on time performance among all the big airlines.
Ratan Tata To Address Passengers
Ratan Tata will make an appearance in a special message to passengers or “guests” in inflight announcements.
Officials have emphasised that Air India flights will not be flying under the Tata Group banner from Thursday itself.
This comes after widespread reports that the handover of Air India to the Tata Group will take place on Thursday.
Tata Group Finally Handed Over AI
The handover is the culmination of the deal struck between the government and Talace Private Limited — a subsidiary of the Tata Group’s holding company — for Rs 18,000 crore.
They outbidded the Rs 15,100-crore offer by a consortium led by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh and the reserve price of Rs 12,906 crore set by the government for the sale of its 100% stake.
As part of the deal, the Tata Group will also be handed over Air India Express and a 50% stake in ground handling arm Air India SATS.
The new date from which operations under the Tata Group aegis will commence will be communicated later.
Ongoing Conflicts With Unions
The national carrier has long been beset by struggles.
Most recently, two airline pilot unions — Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) warned Air India’s CMD Vikram Dev Dutt of legal action due to multiple deductions and recoveries which have been projected on the dues owed to pilots.
They say that the “recovery exercise is entirely illegal” and demand rectification and repayment of the amount with immediate effect.
Crew To Be Checked For Body Fat
Two other unions protested the airline’s decision to check grooming and measure the body mass index (BMI) of cabin crew members just before their flights.
Air India Employees’ Union (AIEU) and All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA) also wrote to Dutt calling the order “dehumanising and in violation of rules prescribed by aviation regulator the DGCA.”