The ‘Maharaja’ has finally returned to its hangar at the Tata Group after 69 years of separation.
After the disinvestment process of Air India was formally completed on Thursday (January 27), the Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran wrote a warm letter welcoming all the employees of Air India back into the fold of the group.
“Today is the beginning of a new chapter. The entire nation’s eyes are on us, waiting to see what we will achieve together. To build the airline our country needs, we need to look to the future… To build the airline our country needs, we need to look to the future…I am convinced that the golden age of Air India lies ahead. Our journey towards it starts now, ” he said in the letter.
Even as there is a lot of excitement and sentiment attached to bringing back Air India to the Bombay House, the chairman pointed out in the letter that it is now time to look ahead. The business conglomerate it seems has grand plans drawn up to revamp the debt-laden civil airlines company.
News reports talked of a 100-day plan for Air India by the Tata Group to improve the operational and service standards of the airline that includes its on-time performance, as well as long-standing thorny issues related to passenger complaints and call centres.
Also read: ‘Totally delighted’: Tata Group officially takes over Air India
The Tata Group will reportedly make major changes and focus on particularly improving Air India’s On-Time-Performance. The maximum emphasis will be given to ensure that all Air India aircraft fly on time.
Enhanced meal services on four flights operating from Mumbai, voice message of new owner Ratan Tata as the flights take off, will be the other initial changes passengers are likely to see in Air India under the Tata Group. There will be changes in seating arrangements and also the attire of the cabin crew, said reports.
Further, since the Tatas is a leading player in the hotel business, it will give top priority to improve the quality of food in the airline, according to reports.
It is not just the airline that will get a makeover. The 10,000 employees of the airline will also see a marked change.
The employees have also been assured that they will not be sacked for one year after the takeover. The Union Minister of state for finance, Dr Bhagwat Kisan Rao Karad had said in December last year that employees cannot be retrenched for a period of one year from the closing date and will be eligible for voluntary retirement with maximum benefits in case of retrenchment in the second year after closing.
The employees will be eligible for a range of benefits such as gratuity, PF rights, medical benefits, passage rights according to the general practice in the airline business and they will be allowed to stay on in their residential colonies for six months after the takeover.
All retired employees and existing employees above 55 years and above or have completed 20 years of service will get medical benefits from the government.
Moreover, the retired employees will get CGHS facility for their OPD requirement and National Health Insurance Scheme for their hospitalisation requirements. The number of retired employees at Air India is about 50,000, of these, about 30,000 have opted for the post-retirement medical scheme.
Air India has about 10,000 employees on its rolls as on date and about 5,000 of them will retire in the next five years.
The Tata Group had won a bid (through a holding company Talace) to buy 100 per cent stake in Air India along with AI Express and 50 per cent stake in ground handling company AISATS and the government plans to transfer ownership to the Tata group before the end of this month.