The airline launched its transformation plan six months ago. Here’s a breakdown of what has changed so far.
In September 2022, Air India announced an extensive five-year transformation roadmap called Vihaan.AI, which means the dawn of a new era in Sanskrit. With so much to do, the new team is taking it one step at a time, setting several goals for its journey ahead in what is expected to be an uphill task. And now, the airline has shared its progress six months after launching the plan.
Six months of Vihaan.AI
When Air India came up with a five-year transformation strategy last year, it divided it into various stages. The first phase to fix the basics was called taxi, following which the airline would enter the subsequent phases of take-off and climb.
The taxi phase, which focused on addressing legacy issues of the airline at scale and laying the foundation for future growth, is now complete, and Air India seems ready to enter the next phase of take-off. Campbell Wilson, Air India’s CEO, has commented,
“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 $400m to completely refurbish existing aircraft, the investment of $200m 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.”
What has changed so far?
While the challenges with Air India are far too many to be resolved in just six months, the new team has managed to iron out some issues. The airline has divided its progress so far as follows:
This includes Air India’s commitment of $400 million for aircraft refurbishment. Shabby aircraft interiors have been a constant problem with Air India, and a promise to fix this issue is a big step.
The airline has also launched new menus for domestic and international services in the last six months and recently also formally introduced premium economy seats on select US flights.
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Air India has rolled out more than 29 new policies across departments to improve welfare and designed new remuneration programs for legacy staff. It also introduced two new training programs to upskill employees and onboarded more than 3,800 new staff members across various departments.
Growth and commercial excellence
This includes the mammoth aircraft order placed with Boeing and Airbus for a total of 470 airplanes – the biggest in aviation history. Air India also expanded its fleet with 36 leased aircraft, including 11 widebodies.
The airline added six new international routes during this time and increased frequency on another 24. Its RASK (revenue per available seat kilometer) improved by 17% over a period of a year.
The carrier is investing $200 million in upgrading its IT systems, including implementing Salesforce for CRM integration and upgradation of SAP ERP system from obsolete mainframe to the cloud, among other upgrades such as improving its website and employee self-service systems, learning management systems, safety management system, etc.
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A significant improvement came in Air India’s on-time performance (OTP), with the carrier consistently remaining in the top three in the last one year. It also reached comprehensive spares and support agreements to improve worldwide reliability.
Air India also restored in-flight entertainment systems to working order on nearly all first and business-class seats, with economy seats being up to almost 90%. Among other operational achievements, Air India also became the first airline in the world to successfully undertake the risk-based IATA Operational Safety Audit.
Plenty to do
But the new management isn’t done yet. With the basic restructuring out of the way, the real challenge of turning Air India into a world-class airline still remains.
The airline calls the next step in its transformation journey the take-off phase, in which it plans to focus on building the right platforms and progress faster based on the momentum that has been established.
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The company’s merger with Vistara as well as the merger of its two budget subsidiaries – Air India Express and AirAsia India – will be part of this phase. Thankfully, Air India is aware of the challenge that awaits it, which is why it has given itself half a decade to see some truly transformational results.
What do you feel about Air India’s progress in the last six months? Please leave your comments below.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Campbell Wilson