Archive for the Business Category

Realty check…

Posted in Business with tags on November 2, 2010 by Sharmila

We live in a fast paced society and we continually struggle to out do one another. Consumerism has driven us all into such a mad fury that we never stop, think and prudently ask ourselves, ” Do we really need this?” . It could be the latest electronic device, a state of the art luxury car or even a spunky real estate that we eagerly wish to clutch on to for sensual gratification. There is a lucrative market that thrives on the  ” impulsive ” quotient. But, how important is it to be caught up in this race and how far must we go? When it comes to having a roof over his head, there is no limit to how far one is willing to stretch himself. Continue reading

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The order of disconnect…

Posted in Business, Politics, Social with tags on July 5, 2010 by Sharmila

Delhi has inaugurated a “world class” spunky new terminal at the Indira Gandhi International airport. It is now the sixth largest in the world, sprawling over 5 million square feet and boasts of 78 aero bridges, 63 elevators, exotic plants, multi level car parking, over 20,000 square meters of retail area amongst a myriad other things. Yes, we have a reason to smile and Manmohan Singh is beating his chest like King Kong and proclaiming how an airport is the first introduction to the country and first impressions are a lasting one. The multi billion dollar facility airport can handle 34 million air passengers a year and is ready for the commonwealth games which is scheduled for October, an event which we are struggling to put together. Continue reading

What’s wrong with Air India? Everything is..

Posted in Business, Social with tags on May 22, 2010 by Sharmila

Tragedy strikes India with the air crash yesterday that killed 156 passengers on board. It will be a while before the real reasons for the crash emerge. Taking moral responsibility by the civil aviation Minister is not going to solve the continuing problems that Air India faces. Cash crunch by far remains Air India’s biggest woe. Financial burdens in turn burden the crew who do not get breaks between short-haul international flights ( 4 / 5 hours ) as they prepare for the return flight and by then have worked for twelve hours or so without a break. I cannot drive a car for twelve hours without falling asleep on the steering wheel, how does one keep alert in a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A 330 carrying the life of two hundred odd passengers on board for twelve hours?No amount of compensation that AI or the Government offers will bring back lost lives. An error of devastating proportions such as yesterday should never occur in the first place. Whether it was a problem with the short runway in Mangalore, the ATC , the pilot or the plane, there is rarely a second chance when it comes to air travel. Those who survived yesterday’s crash may never want to fly again, unfortunately people like us have to. I have become a nervous flyer lately. A turbulent flight between Bangalore and Singapore last night made me realize how things can go dastardly wrong in a few seconds, thirty thousand feet up in the air, with the top and the bottom bearing the same black, endless hue, all our lives were in the hands of the Pilot and God of course.  However, there was one reassuring factor which made me confident that the passengers were in safe hands. We were flying Singapore Airlines. Air turbulence is a regular feature, but thinking about the recent incident involving an Emirates flight from Dubai to Thiruvanthapuram that plunged 15,000 feet as it got caught in an air pocket is certainly not helpful. This would have been a free fall of a lifetime.Not to forget, no one as yet knows the real reason for the Air France Airbus A330 crash in the Atlantic as it flew into a thunderstorm.Honestly, if it were an Air India flight, I am not sure what state I would have been!Four crashes in the last few weeks across the globe in rather rapid succession is not a reassuring thought for frequent flyers. I am reposting an article I had done on AI a few weeks back.

Whenever I think of Air India, the Maharaja fails to appear , but a big oaf like man who could pass off as the court jester does. I hum the famous Maria soundtrack from the movie ” Sound of Music” when the nuns got together to sing about the troublemaker Maria, here we sing about the troubled Airlines and it goes something like this – 

How do you solve a problem like Air India?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Air India?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown

For my heightened sense of patriotism the ideal airlines I should be flying must be AI, but it has been a good long time since I sat in one. The reasons for not flying it far outweighs the reasons why I should. Here are some of the reasons with a link back to the original article.

It takes a little over five hours to reach Chennai from Hong Kong on a Cathay flight and seven hours to reach Chennai on an Air India flight from Mumbai due to a problem with the air conditioning  click here for details

A family of three hitch hike on an AI flight and occupy the jump seat next to the driver..err Pilot. click here for details

A snake was spotted on an AI plane but gave the crew the slip and slithered into a vent, not to be found again. click here for details

The pilot was asleep, not in his bedroom but in a plane full of two hundred passengers he was piloting, the AI flight overshot Mumbai where it was to land and the dozing pilot was woken up by the ATC. click here for details

An AI plane pulls back with the aero bridge still attached to it at the Mumbai airport. Click here for details

There are many more incidents that I could add but I think by now the picture is rather clear. The above reasons are not the only reasons why passengers are reluctant to fly AI which has resulted in staggering losses to the tune of 7,500 crores INR by March 2009 post merger with Indian Airlines in 2007. Poor service in the air, dissatisfactory service on the ground has resulted in more and more Indian passengers shying away from the national carrier.Delays also add to the existing woes. AI holds the third position in the domestic market share after Jet and Kingfisher and if drastic measures are not taken by the Government in the near future, AI will nosedive further. Presently AI is looking for a bail out from the Government and an advisory board of prominent industrialists are trying to put the airlines back on auto pilot and get it to cruise smoothly. A tall task to cut back losses, the easier way has been to cut costs rather than generate more revenues. As a result orders with Boeing have been cut back and other restructuring plans are taking place.

Other than the obviously glaring issues there are subtle issues which would need to be amended. One being the graciousness of the air hostesses themselves, very seldom have I travelled in an AI flight where the hostesses are pleasant. I recall a friends’ narration when he was traveling business class that the hostess was yelling at the top of her voice the dinner menu simply as ” MUTTON / CHICKEN ” with an authority that even Hitler would have shuddered at. Frankly, as a passenger one seldom notices what is happening behind the scenes or for that matter inside the cockpit but it would be important to get their acts spruced up in matters that stare at the passengers faces. A bit of fluff can go a long way in building passenger loyalty.

It is not a good feeling to amble on about the airlines that was once the Maharaja of the Indian skies and I sincerely hope that AI does not crash land and break into pieces. The founder Mr JRD Tata would not have anticipated a short haul flight as he flew it to the skies. The Government needs to kick start the dying engines and privatization once again may be considered.A hijack attempt by a foreign entity may dent the pride initially but if this is the only way that the Maharaja can get back his regal status, so be it.