NEW DELHI: Reportedly, the government has asked Air India management the estimate cost of refurbishing it’s aircraft interiors. Government also wants to revitalize the in-flight entertainment for long-haul flights.
Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked Air India chairman PS Kharola regarding the figures. After the estimations, the minister promised a special fund from Finance ministry. This will come in addition to the ball-out package. Prabhu later said, “Big foreign airlines spend huge sums of money on interior upgradation. We cannot do that much but some things need to be ensured like having fully functional IFE screens on AI’s long haul flights. We will seek money for this from the Finance Minister”.
In addition to renovations, the airline management has proposed certain cost cutting and revenue enhancement measures. On asked regarding this, aviation secretary RN Choubey said, “Together, these two should lead to a benefit of Rs 2,000 crore per annum. In addition, the process of hiving off some of AI’s unsustainable debt to an SPV is also underway. The debt servicing saving will be in addition to the Rs 2,000 crore proposed by the airline”.
The ministry has asked the management to ensure that business class passengers get the same privileges as the high paying fliers. The economy passengers should also get their value for money. The majority of complaints to company from Air India’s long distance flights are regarding non- functional IFEs.
Currently, Air India has long hauls to North America, Australia and San Francisco.
Delhi–San Francisco is the longest inbound flight distance. An official from IFE systems of the aircraft commented, “We are seeing if repair or replacements would
be more cost-effective in the long run. We are seized of this issue”.