Air India has announced that it has concluded the “Taxiing” phase of its transformation plan “Vihaan.AI”, the one which was announced by the airline last year. The taxiing phase is the first of its five-year transformation plan. Let’s get into the details.
Taxiing phase over
Air India says that the Taxi phase was focussed on addressing legacy issues of the airline at scale and laying the foundation for future growth.
Some of the “significant” achievements that Air India has achieved during the Taxi phase are:
- Committed over $400 million for aircraft refurbishments
- Revamped menus on international and domestic routes
- Launched Premium Economy seats for the first time ever on select long-haul flights
- Insourced some of the critical customer service functions and initiated revamp of customer notification system for all touchpoints.
- More than 1 million legacy refund cases settled between February and December 2022
- Implemented multiple customer compensation policies to aid service recovery (for example, FogCare initiative for winter season)
- Launched RFP for new customer contact centre
- Recruited, with AISATS, hundreds of additional airport staff to improve customer experience
- Rolled out new organization structure and revamped roles across levels with a conscious effort to address the disparities between permanent and full-term contract employees
- Rolled out over 29 new policies across employees to improve welfare
- Designed new remuneration programs for legacy staff
- Introduced 2 new training programs, Saksham and ACE, to upskill staff and improve service
- Onboarded more than 3800 employees across crew and other functions to support capability and growth
Growth & Commercial Excellence:
- Signed the industry’s largest-ever order for 470 aircraft
- Expedited fleet expansion with 36 leased aircraft, including 11 widebodies, being delivered in 2022-23
- Restored to service, or decommissioned pending sale, all long grounded aircraft
- Added 6 new international routes while increasing the frequency on another 24
- Attained highest ever single-day passenger revenue, highest ever cargo revenue, highest ever ancillary revenue, and highest ever load factor
- RASK (revenue per available seat kilometre) improved by 17% over a period of a year
- $200 million being invested in upgrading IT systems including implementing Salesforce for CRM integration and upgradation of SAP ERP system from obsolete mainframe to the cloud, upgradation of the website, employee self-service systems, learning management systems, safety management system, world-class rostering, and day-of-ops systems as also introducing iPads across the fleet to better empower crew and improve processes
- Most improved domestic On-Time Performance (OTP) across the sector in the last one year with a consistent top 3 ranking
- Comprehensive spares and support agreements reached to improve worldwide reliability
- Performance Improvement Programme underway with Boeing to improve 787 reliability
- In-flight Entertainment (IFE) systems have been restored to working order on nearly all first and business-class seats, with economy seats being up to nearly 90%.
- Engineering function completely rebuilt, with new people and systems.
- World-class flight safety expertise and systems on boarded
- First airline in the world to successfully undertake the risk-based IATA Operational Safety Audit
Influence & Responsibility:
- Signed MoU with CSIR – Indian Institute of Petroleum for adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
- Re-engaged with the global aviation industry relationships including joining industry associations like AAPA and FIA
- Reactivated more than 10 codeshare agreements and in active alliance discussions with other airlines
- Actively engaged with Star Alliance, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation
- Adopted ‘Go Green, Go Paperless’ initiative including adoption of e-signature
The first six months of our transformation journey has engaged and united Air Indians behind a common cause, and made great strides in tackling many issues that had built up over the years. During this Taxi phase, we have also come a long way in establishing foundations for growth. Our record- setting aircraft order, the commitment of $400 million to completely refurbish existing aircraft, the investment of $200 million in new IT, and the recruitment of literally thousands of staff are but a few of the significant investments being made to restore Air India to the upper echelons of global aviation. As we move into our Take Off phase, we will start seeing these investments bear fruit. All Air Indians are very grateful to partners and supporters as we continue this journey.said Campbell Wilson, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, Air India.
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Now on to “Takeoff” phase
The conclusion of the Taxi phase also marks the beginning of Vihaan.AI’s Take-Off chapter. Air India says that the take-off phase will focus on building the right platforms and progress faster based on the momentum that has been established. This phase will also witness the consolidation of the group airlines AirAsia India and Air India Express.
The LCC (low-cost carrier) entity has successfully merged their core reservations platform, websites, and customer-facing systems. Vistara will also be merged with Air India following the grant of regulatory approval. The development of a training academy will also take shape as also the future direction and configuration of the airline’s line and base maintenance.
It will still take time!
Air India was run by the Indian government in the past and since January 2022, it is being run by the Tata Group, the “original” owners of the airline.
The Tata Group has undertaken one of the toughest jobs in the aviation industry and that is changing the face of an airline. It’s not at all an easy job.
I have maintained from the very start that turning Air India, which was once a legacy carrier, back into an airline which competes with best of the best will take time, perhaps a decade or even more. The Tatas have set an ambitious timeline of five years, and if it can successfully do so, then it’s great and if it can successfully turn around Air India, then it will be an achievement in itself, whether it’s in five years or a bit longer than that.
Those who are expecting major changes from Air India and the Tatas in such a short period of time since the airline went private should absolutely not. The statistics shared by the airline indicate that the company is on track of what it has envisioned and that’s good.
In my opinion, it will still be two to three years before we see any major changes from passenger experience point-of-view. For example, we may not see standardised hard products onboard every long-haul aircraft until they are all retrofitted and the leased ones are returned or retrofitted.
Leaving all of this aside, I am sure every “Aviation Geek” (and others too) are excited to know what’s next in line for Air India and how the brand will continue to evolve going forward.
Featured image by Twitter/spottingatxfw
What do you think of Air India’s transformation plan Vihaan.AI? Are you excited? Let me know in the comments section below.