Air India, From Losing Money to Pilot Fisticuffs

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/14/2015 01:30:00 AM
Captain said knock you out: aboard not-so-amazing Air India.
Oh dear, these national carriers keep coming to our attention with their unprofitability and headline-grabbing incidents. After Malaysia Airlines and Lufthansa, we now have India's flag-bearer, Air India. Like the two others mentioned earlier, Air India is saddled with "legacy" costs being the flag carrier. Moreover, militant unions will oppose any sort of rationalization or, indeed, privatization. Still, plans were mooted late last year to do just that in the face of expected opposition from vested interests despite the money-losing airline hemorrhaging cash that the government needs to keep replenishing:
The government will form a committee within the next fortnight comprising bankers, aviation experts and technocrats to help turn around and look at privatizing money-losing national airline Air India, two government officials aware of the matter said on Thursday...

It’s the latest effort by the central government to turn around Air India, which made a loss estimated at Rs.5,389 crore in the year ended 31 March and has accumulated losses of $5 billion in addition to total debt of Rs.40,000 crore. The government, in 2012, promised an equity infusion of Rs.30,000 crore till 2021 to bail out the airline. Of this, it has already infused nearly 18,000 crore.
Air India’s woes date back to a failed merger with Indian Airlines, another state-owned airline (the latter flew domestic routes and a few international ones in the neighbourhood; the old Air India flew only international routes) in 2007 and laxity on the part of India’s aviation ministry that effectively allowed international airlines to expand their presence in India without any reciprocal benefit for Air India. “Air India is bleeding the country. Every year we have to pump in Rs.6000 crore,” one of the two government officials cited above said on condition of anonymity, adding that the mandate of the committee would be to “look at making the airline better—cut costs and increase revenues, before privatization”.
Fortunately for Air India, its headline-grabbing event is not a spectacular air crash or a flight disappearance. Then again, the event hardly paints a flattering portrait of the carrier as pilots on a flight had a fistfight [!] before taking off:
Struggling state-run carrier Air India has grounded two of its pilots after a fight erupted between the pair just before takeoff, reports said Monday. The co-pilot allegedly assaulted the captain inside the cockpit as they were preparing the passenger plane for takeoff from the Indian tourist city of Jaipur to New Delhi on Sunday night, the Hindustan Times newspaper said.

The co-pilot was irritated by his superior's request to write down critical information for the flight, such as the number of passengers on board, take off weight and fuel uptake, the Times Of India reported." The co-pilot took offence at this and reportedly beat up the captain," the newspaper said, quoting unnamed sources...

Air India -- which has not reported an annual profit since 2007 -- has been hit by a string of technical glitches and other embarrassing incidents, including staff turning up late for flights.
The unprofessionalism is beyond belief. It's been a long series of hijinks that give Air India a bad image, and the latest incident certainly doesn't help. Given keep competition on international routes from Middle East-based carriers having the advantage of straddling Euroep and Asia, comic episodes aren't bound to inspire consumer confidence.