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Air India Express to get its act together to fight competition

Have complaints about the airline write to me, says minister

Aneesh Phadnis  |  Mumbai 

Facing stiff competition from Gulf Airlines, plans to woo passengers improving its passenger service, including Malayalam announcements on board and South Indian delicacies on flight.

The low cost arm of Air India flies an all Boeing 737 fleet and gets 75 percent of its business from Kerala. The airline's headquarters is now being shifted to Kochi and will be operational from next month. Apart from competition the airline is receiving bad press in Kerala following frequent flight disruptions and losing business. The frequent flight cancellations had led to large scale anti-Air India feeling in the state prompting the local government to revive its proposal to launch Air Kerala which would cater to migrant Keralities.

K C Venugopal, minister of state of aviation and MP from Kerala's Alappuzha district reviewed the airline's performance at a meeting on Friday. Venugopal is said to be taking personal interest in the airline's functioning and has created an email id - to receive passenger feedback and complaints regarding this airline. "My office will personally look into the emails and action will be taken in seven days,'' Venugopal announced in Kochi on Friday.

" Apart from shifting of headquarters to Kochi it has been decided to recruit new pilots and training captains for  We hope to end pilot shortage in four months,''  he said. The airline has 260 pilots on its rolls and half of them are on deputation from Air India.

flights were curtailed due to Directorate General of Civil Aviation's norms on flight duty time for crew and later impacted due to pilots strike and utilisation of its planes for Haj flights. "We will now focus on schedule integrity and improving our on time performance. The OTP has already improved from 70 percent to 80 percent and aircraft utilisation too has increased from seven to ten hours,'' an airline executive said. The airline has also made changes at the management appointing A J Dsouza as chief operating  officer and Capt Pushpinder Singh as deputy COO. The airline is also setting up dedicated customer service centre and appointing senior officials at airports in Kerala to handle passenger grievances, the executive added.

First Published: Sat, December 15 2012. 21:38 IST