What ails Air India

Deepu Krishna

This is the story about the ordeal and nightmare the passengers went through at the Air india domestic check in counter before boarding the Delhi-Bhopal Flight AI437 on 19 February 2021.

One is not surprised why Air India is suffering losses. Here is a case study that amply explains why privatization is what Indians need. The accountability in PVT sector makes you work harder and the customer/citizens are beneficiaries and get the real worth of the money they spend. 

For a flight at 7:45 evening, thank heavens, I started from my dwelling at 1 noon due to the farmer’s protest at the Delhi Border. I reached the airport and was in the queue at the Air India Counter at around 3:45 pm for the check-in at 5:15 pm. After the security check, I was at the flight gate at 6: 30 pm. After having skipped lunch, one was in such a bad shape while boarding the aircraft…which again was late by 1 hour….all this was so frustrating that I even decided….not to fly by Air india again…

Now people might think all this is normal with Terminal 3 and weekend rush. But I would like to focus attention towards a friend of mine, who landed at the airport around the same time, took Vistara to Mumbai and reached there even before I could land at the flight Gate. Vistara also had similar number of passengers but what separated them from those who took the Air India flight was the efficient manner in which the Vistara staff was managing their check-in counters during the crunch hour.

Air india had employees working like sloths. So slow and yet only three counters. One of which was closed as the employees’ time was over and there was no one to fill in. Great management indeed. 

No quick check-in counters for those sloppy late comers…early comers had also turned into late comers because of the poor speed these guys exhibited while attending to those already in the queue.

For the late comers a Rajpal Yadav lookalike was heard announcing- “Kochi Flight”, “Varanasi flight”. Mind it, this happened only once. Hearing this the vigilant and impatient few scrambled and rushed towards this dude, who asked them all to jump their turn, break the line and rush towards the counter. This way, he encouraged them to push aside those already in line. In the midst of all this, what further added to the chaos was the desk employee’s tantrums.

The senior citizens who couldn’t hear him were at total loss and there was absolutely no one to give a helping hand. An agitated elderly woman who was braving COVID and was travelling back to her husband after visiting her sons…was literally cursing them “You all will never prosper”. I was shocked and dismayed by the reaction of the airline staff as they began laughed at her. 

There was no senior officer or supervisor around to handle the crisis. In sharp contrast, everyone is aware how there is always an Air India officer in attendance helping bureaucrats and VIPs, who invariably arrive at the last moment and within no time, they are escorted through the security.
I wonder….How these employees get selected?What motivates them to do their work to their satisfaction? What would be their targets? What would be the sense or belonging they have towards the brand they work for?
They are just a glorified and a high end kind of versions of what we see in most Government run enterprises. An airline that promises premium service unequalled by any competitor, an airline that has commanded people’s trust all these years, if it is in doldrums and in red today, there have to be definite reasons for it. What I witnessed and went through the other day explains a lot. People, who are supposed to be running the airline are failing in their responsibility. Same is the story with many Government and public sector enterprises.

Deepu Krishna, resident of Bhopal, is currently working with OP Jindal Global University as Deputy Director Admissions and Outreach.

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