Key to TATA’s strategy to infuse fresh energy into Air India

Jinen Gada

21 Jul 2022

The voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) scheme floated by the new management soon after Tatas returned to the helm of Air India has found an estimated 4,500 takers.

The airline rolled out a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in June this year for some permanent employees including cabin crew for the first time. These employees, as per VRS guidelines, must be above 55 years of age or have completed two decades of service.

The new management is in talks to purchase several new aircraft.

Air India had about 13,000 employees, of which 8,000 were permanent staff and the rest contractual.

Under Air India's VRS rules, people older than 40 and 20 years of continuous employment can opt for voluntary retirement. The company also gave an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 lakh to those who opted for the VRS between June 1 and July 31.

Tata executives said Air India needed talent with the right attitude and aptitude to compete with international rivals. Air India announced the VRS for permanent employees of Air India in June and relaxed the age eligibility criteria to 40 from 55. In addition, the company announced an ex-gratia amount for employees who apply for voluntary retirement between June 1, 2022, and Jul 31, 2022.

"We are right-sizing the organisation, roping in new talent, apart from upgrading the quality of aircraft and all this needs talent with the right skills and abilities to build a superior airline, it is work in progress and needs patience as we do that."Tata Executive.

Tata Groups’s strategy is to infuse fresh energy by hiring new talent across operations in the airline. As part of its cost-saving measures, it's working on revamping the airline, improving productivity and revitalising archaic systems with digital culture, the daily report.

Tata Group is infusing fresh energy by hiring new talent across operations in the airline.

The Indian carrier is reportedly considering purchasing Boeing’s narrow-body planes alongside Airbus A350 jets as part of fleet renewal. Additionally, fleet upgradation, more destinations, world-class hospitality inflight or on the ground and many such areas are being worked upon.

Air India has been appointing new hires as well as taking on senior talent from group companies such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Tata Digital to handle customer experience, ground handling, the website, call centres and several other digital initiatives. Execution, design and customer service are also being reworked.

ALSO READ - Over 1,600 Air India employees opt for a voluntary retirement scheme

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JetSetGo to lease 4 planes from GIFT City in 2022-23

Radhika Bansal

20 Jul 2022

JetSetFleet Management Services IFSC Private, a leasing arm of JetSetGo Aviation, is aiming at importing four more planes through the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in 2022-23.

The company imported its Hawker 800 XP aircraft from Dubai and leased it through GIFT City on July 16 and is the second aircraft it has leased from it. JetSetGo’s fleet ranges from the 18-seater Global 6000 to the six-seater Cessna Citation CJ2 with list prices ranging from USD 50 million to USD 3 million.

The aircraft was hauled into the maintenance, repair, and operations centre after landing at Nagpur airport. JetSetGo founder & CEO Kanika Tekriwal told Moneycontrol.

JetSetGo to lease 4 planes from GIFT City in 2022-23

She added that JetSetGo is working on an innovative financing model to lease out the aircraft and intends to use the “pay-as-you-go” structure.

Tekriwal said that in the new arrangement, JetSetGo will be paid according to how much the aircraft is flown. Additionally, JetSetGo is investigating revenue-sharing agreements.

“Leasing aircraft from anywhere abroad, except Ireland, involves paying a withholding tax of 10%. Leasing from Ireland has its own expenses. Thanks to the tax holiday in Gift City, it makes sense for us to lease planes from there. Two of our 10 planes have been leased from there and we plan to get 10-20 more via that route. We also plan to get our clients in the Middle East to lease planes from Gift City.Out of the 12 aircraft we are looking to add to our fleet, three to four will be based out of the middle east while the remaining will be in India."Kanika Tekriwal, Founder & CEO, JetSetGo

She added that JetSetGo now manages 28 aircraft in India and West Africa or the Middle East and is looking to increase the number to around 40 aircraft in 2022-23.

At the moment, JetSetGo manages around six aircraft in West Africa and 22 aircraft in India spread out in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru.

JetSetGo currently manages and operates India’s largest private jet and helicopter fleet. According to the company "We fixed the two biggest problems in the industry, making private jets profit centres instead of cost centres for owners and at the same time reducing aircraft charter costs for charter customers."

JetSetGo now manages 28 aircraft in India and West Africa or the Middle East and is looking to increase the number to around 40 aircraft in 2022-23.

Through the use of technology, the development of maintenance procedures and SMART management (developed and property of JetSetGo) JetSetGo reduces maintenance cost, increases air time, and decreases ground time thereby making sure aircraft are profitable.

JetSetGo at the same time reduces aircraft charter costs enabling customers to fly more than they did before with the same money they spent earlier. Moreover, with the JetSetGo SMART management technique maintenance prevention and prediction technology has been developed providing safety and on-time delivery like never before, a press statement from the company said. 

(With Inputs from MoneyControl)

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UPS opens a new airport gateway facility at Bengaluru airport

Radhika Bansal

20 Jul 2022

UPS on July 19 announced an expansion of its global logistics network with a new airport gateway facility in India at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru.

"With this added capacity, a new Boeing 747-8 flight will now be able to further connect our customers in India with more international trade opportunities in Asia, Europe, and the Americas," the company said in a statement.

The new facility in Bengaluru is spread across 15,000 square feet and consists of a sorting field and in-house customs clearance. The new facility will serve as a cross-border trade link for southern India, giving customers an extended pick-up time of up to two hours, while strengthening supply chains for cross-border trade.

UPS has been working on its new facility for the last 18 months. The American supply chain major now has two gateway facilities in India, one in Delhi and one in Bengaluru spread across a total of 32,000 square feet.

UPS will operate an additional five flights per week from its new facility in Bengaluru, with one direct flight between Bengaluru and Koln in Germany, the company's headquarters. In total UPS will now operate 11 flights from India every week using its Boeing 747-8 wide-body aircraft.

The Boeing 747-8 has a cargo capacity of 307,600 pounds, or about 30,000 packages, and a range of 4,200 nautical miles. The UPS air network features a fleet of almost 600 aircraft delivering to over 220 countries and territories around the world.

“Customers are at the core of our strategy, and we’re on a mission to deliver what matters for them. According to the ministry of commerce and industry, for the first time, in the financial year 2022, exports have surpassed USD 400 billion, demonstrating the strength of India’s supply chains and the resilience of its small businesses. We’re here to support that growth.” Deepak Shrivastava, MD, Indian Subcontinent, UPS

He added that the new Bengaluru facility will help UPS cater to clients from the southern states in India and going forward UPS will continue to invest in India based on requirements from clients in the country.

This is UPS’s second dedicated airport gateway facility in India after opening its Delhi airport gateway in 2020. The company aims to turn carbon neutral by 2050. 

The Boeing 747-8 has a cargo capacity of 307,600 pounds, or about 30,000 packages, and a range of 4,200 nautical miles.

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The new airport gateway follows the launch earlier this year of a new logistics brand for the Indian market, 'MOVIN', which is a joint venture between UPS and InterGlobe Enterprises, it was noted.

A boom in e-commerce during the pandemic, combined with supply-chain disruptions at ports worldwide, has boosted demand for transporting goods by air. Carriers in India and elsewhere are deploying dedicated cargo planes after Covid grounded many passenger jets that would typically carry some freight in their bellies. 

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Airbus, Boeing compete to get Air India’s deal

Jinen Gada

20 Jul 2022

The potential blockbuster deal of this year’s Farnborough air show still hangs in the balance, with Airbus SE growing more confident it can secure a landmark purchase of about 50 A350 wide-body jets from Air India Ltd at the event, and Boeing working on a deal for as many as 150 737 Max jetliners.

The Indian carrier is considering Boeing’s narrow-body planes alongside the Airbus A350 jets, as part of a fleet renewal under new owner Tata Group. Fleet modernization and expansion of its fleet would be important for Air India to compete in the cutthroat Indian Aviation industry as well as with India’s largest airline IndiGo with its ever-growing fleet.

Air India's owner Tata Group Air India is considering an order of as many as 300 narrow-body jets.

Air India is inclining towards B737 for its narrow-body aircraft as the delivery time for Airbus’s A320 has a long wait time. Air India recently appointed its chief pilot for A350, suggesting the airline wants to purchase Airbus’s most advanced aircraft.

The discussions are ongoing and the final order tallies could shift, the people said. Airbus is trying to get the widebody deal firmed up at the show, but the carrier may wait for an official announcement until India’s Independence Day on August 15.

For Airbus, an A350 deal would even be a necessary win as a result the planemaker would not have a single buyer there for its widebody jets.

Landing a large-scale narrow-body order in India would be a coup for both Boeing and its European arch-rival. Airbus dominates the skies in the country, so any narrow-body win for Boeing would help the US company gain traction in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets.

Air India’s owner Tata Group Air India is considering an order of as many as 300 narrow-body jets, Bloomberg News reported last month. The Airbus A350 long-range jets are capable of flying as far as the US West Coast from New Delhi. The airline still has lucrative landing slots at most major airports. But it faces competition from foreign airlines with nonstop services to India as well as from carriers that fly via hubs in the Middle East. 

Airbus dominates the skies in the country.

Tata bought the airline earlier this year in the most high-profile privatization under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is expected to consolidate its aviation businesses, including four airline brands. An order for new planes, especially with favourable terms on long-term maintenance, would help it cut costs and compete better with rivals that offer very cheap fares. 

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DGCA finds insufficient aircraft engineers during spot checks amid rising technical snags

Radhika Bansal

20 Jul 2022

With airlines reporting multiple technical malfunction incidents, aviation regulator DGCA on Monday, July 18 said it conducted spot checks and found that there is an insufficient number of engineering personnel certifying planes of various carriers before their departure.

Before each departure, an aircraft is checked and certified by an aircraft maintenance engineer (AME). The DGCA has now issued guidelines for airlines on the deployment of AME personnel and directed them to comply by July 28.

The spot checks also found that the AME teams of airlines are improperly identifying the "cause of a reported defect", the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)'s order noted. They also found that there has been an "increasing trend of MEL (minimum equipment list) releases" of aircraft, it said.

DGCA finds insufficient aircraft engineers during spot checks in wake of rising technical snags

"MEL releases" means an aircraft is allowed to fly with certain inoperative equipment or instruments for a specific period until the repairs are done.

"It is also seen that airlines are resorting to frequent one-off authorisation to Category A certifying staff at transit stations which is not in line with existing regulatory provisions," the DGCA said.

A Category A engineer is called a 'limited scope engineer', and he or she is allowed to certify and release planes for departures only when the aircraft does not have a complex defect.

The Category B1 engineer is one step above the Category A engineer and he or she is capable of handling mechanical defects. Category B2 engineering is capable of handling defects in the electronic equipment of planes.

The DGCA said: "It has been decided that all aircraft at base and transit stations shall be released by certifying staff holding AME Category B1/B2 license with appropriate authorisation by their organisation."

The regulator told airlines to position Category B1 and Category B2 engineers at all base and transit stations and make sure that required tools and equipment are available. "Alternatively, you may opt for sending the certifying staff on flight duties," the DGCA mentioned.

Jyotiraditya Scindia held one-on-one meetings with chiefs of Indian carriers, asking them to ramp up safety oversight.

The DGCA said that its directions must be complied with by July 28. The DGCA is currently investigating all the incidents.

ALSO READ - Recent emergency landings led to Scindia’s high-level meeting with senior DGCA officials

Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia held one-on-one meetings with chiefs of Indian carriers, asking them to ramp up safety oversight. The meeting comes as a result of multiple technical malfunction incidents in Indian carriers' planes that have taken place in the last month.

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1000 complaints filed against Air India in past 3 months

Jinen Gada

20 Jul 2022

After winning the takeover bid of Air India on October 8 last year, Tata Group took over the charge of Air India on January 27 this year.

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh on Monday, July 18 said around 1,000 passenger complaints have been received against the country's largest airline, Air India in the last three months.

These complaints are related to various reasons like a refund of fare, overbooking of flights and behaviour of employees. 

1000 complaints were filed against Air India in the past 3 months

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on June 14 that it had imposed a fine of INR 10 lakh on Air India for indulging in unfair practices like denying boarding to passengers despite carrying a valid ticket and not giving a proper compensation for the same.

ALSO READ - Air India fined INR 10 lakh by DGCA for denying boarding despite valid ticket; DGCA issues new rules for airlines

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had in May said that the airlines are indulging in the “unfair practice” of denying boarding to passengers even when they report for their flights at the airport on time.

"Ministry of Civil Aviation has been receiving grievances related to air transport, including Air India, on the various issues such as refund of fares, flight issues, staff behaviour, baggage issues, overbooking of flights, etc."VK Singh said in his written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

The regulator — in an e-mail on May 2 — had asked all Indian carriers to give compensation and facilities to passengers affected by such denial of boarding, failing which it would impose financial penalties on them. 

Similar to this, many audits were carried out by DGCA of scheduled domestic airlines at various airports in May and June this year. During such an audit, Air India was found in non-compliance with the regulations in place in this regard and accordingly a penalty was imposed on Air India as per the laid down provisions.