Sunday, July 23, 2017

Case Study of Maharaja !

Case Study of Maharaja

There was an Air India flight AI 120 arrived from India with passengers and was parked for it's return flight to Delhi, at the boarding area of one of the busiest Airports of the world, Frankfurt on 20 July 2017. It was ready for departure for Delhi at it's regular time of 9.15 PM. The boarding started at 8.45 PM and till all people got boarded, things were looking normal. But when the flight didn't take off till 10 PM, passengers started murmuring. The pilot then announced that due to technical problem the flight is getting delayed. Passengers were waiting for the technical part to get resolved understanding that in a busy port, may be an issue of traffic management. The crew started serving dinner to the passengers and at the 11th hour at 11 PM, the pilot announced that as the airport is closed down, therefore, the plane can't take off without the ground clearance permission of the air control authority of the airport, therefore we shall fly tomorrow morning.

All passengers were sent to the hotels for the night stay with an understanding that they will report to the airport at 7 AM next morning. The wake up call was set. But in the morning, it was told to the business class passengers to wait till 7 PM by the hotel receptionist. For economy class passengers, as per the notice board announcement at the hotel in the morning, all of them left the hotel at 7 AM and reported to the air india counter at the airport. There were three counters but only one was operating and the staff was coming and going but none was giving any clear reply. They spend the whole day in front of the counter in standing position. Few passengers from them managed their space in the vacant seats of in AI regular evening flight or in other flights of Lufthansa. Still 8 business class passengers and 133 economy class passengers remained.

One family complained that their children were without food for the whole day. Some passengers received the SMS from Air India that the flight will depart at 10.40 PM. I was told to stay at the hotel till 7 PM. Curiously I went to the airport in the evening at 5 PM and came to know that the flight will now fly tomorrow (22/7) morning at 6 AM instead of tonight. The youths were commenting that besides the Air India counter, there are 5 counters of private airline operating with speed and positivity of serving customers though there was not much of the rush of the passengers. And here on Indian National airline, one counter was attending the customers with the slowest possible speed and without disclosing any information.

As Air India staff were not disclosing the reasons of the delay, I inquired with the hotel agent standing besides the counter and came to know that there was some technical fault with the part of the nose of the craft. The spare part will come from India in today's flight in the evening, the engineers will fix it and then the flight may get ready for the take off next morning at 6AM. This was a probability. And a worry amongst the passngers including me to fly in a defective craft.

Next morning on 22/7, we reached to the airport at 4.30 AM. There was one window counter operating for handling check in baggages and connecting flight related issues. It took 30 minutes to get 3 boarding passes to a Afghani family after an intervention of a senior staff member. One may feel pity about the tired and slow moving staff of the Air India. At B-62, after a shot waiting, they allowed the passengers to board as if we are flying at 6 AM, but on screen the time was once again changed to 10 AM. Finally, the craft was ready and with the painful claps of the tired passengers, the flight took off at 9.56 AM on 22/7 from the Frankfurt airport after 37 hours of it's scheduled departure. At the end of the day, flight landed to Delhi Airport at 9.21 PM. The luggage reached to the hands of passengers by 10.45 PM and the 70 passengers of connecting flights were moved to the average type hotel Contaur, they have been served delicious indian food and given rooms to rest from where they will report to the airport as per their connecting flight schedule from early in the morning and will reach to their destinations on 23/7.

I took a chance to know some more details about the fault with the craft. Air India has appointed a German Engineer at Frankfurt, and he has grounded Air India crafts 10-15 times in a year. Each grounding costs $ 200,000 to the Air India at the costliest airport of Frankfurt. Plus the accommodation and food for the passengers may be costing around € 500-1000 per person. The staff felt that the problem was not big and the crafts are otherwise flying without any problem with the same condition in other parts of the world but the German engineer at Frankfurt airport doesn't give clearance to fly if there is a small technical problem. Air India staff said that they have conveyed to the CMD to appoint an Indian engineer at Airport Frankfurt so that he can give easy clearance like other airports but the German Engineer continued. They love Air India as they have served it for whole of their life but when Air India loses such a big money due to grounding, they feel very bad and accept the privatisation move of the airline.

If the engineer didn't clear the flight, and if the spare part is to be brought from India in the next day's evening flight after 24 hrs, and if the flight is going to take off after 36 hours of it's scheduled departure time, knowing well of all these things, why did the Air India:

1) Brought the craft with the nose problem, when they knew the grounding history of the German Engineer posted at Frankfurt, and heavy cost on the grounding?

2) Why didn't they disclose the information to the passengers?

2) Why they were rescheduling the time table again and again?

3) Why did they keep the economy class passengers standing in a queue for more than 10 hours?

4) If it has star alliance with other 6-7 airlines, why didn't they rebooked the passengers in other airlines.

5) Why didn't they manage the spare part locally?

6) Lufthansa is their star alliance and a local airlines, then why didn't they arrange spare craft from Lufthansa or other airlines and send the passengers to their destinations with minimum possible delay?

Why should they do it?

After all, it's name is Maharaja!

All passengers were cursing the airlines for their services and attitude. Some passengers commented that it is better if this Maharaja is privatised.

Delhi, 11.45 PM
22 July 2017

NB: There was a silver line in the clouds, passengers passed two nights in Hotel Steingenberger near the Frankfurt Airport, where Honourable PM of India had stayed.


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