As pilots flex muscles, Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani cracks the whip

Lohani, in his first message to employees has said that the organisation will always maintain a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards indiscipline.

Written by Sharmistha Mukherjee | New Delhi | Updated: September 12, 2015 4:19 am
Air India, Air India pilots, pilots protest, Air India pilots protest, Indian economy, economic growth, business news CMD Ashwani Lohani said, given the “grave crisis” the airline is going through, it is pertinent that at this critical juncture all employees maintain integrity,

At a time when a section of pilots in national carrier Air India have been agitating against being removed from the ‘workmen’ category which essentially prevents them from participating in strikes, newly appointed chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani, in his first message to employees has said that the organisation will always maintain a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards indiscipline.

In a letter dated September 11, 2015, Lohani has said that while Air India will take care of its ‘workforce’ and the management will take pro-active steps to ensure that staff grievances are resolved, “the organisation shall always maintain zero tolerance to indiscipline”.

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The message comes at a time when the 660-member Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) undertook a secret ballot to decide whether they would go on strike to protest against the management’s decision to remove pilots-in-command from the ‘workmen’ category.

Lohani, who took charge last week in his message to employees, also highlighted the need to enhance passenger service in the airline.

“This can be done through high standards of cleanliness of the aircraft cabin, improvements to the cabin, working IFE (inflight entertainment) system, audible announcements, courteous behaviour and above all a happy smile on the face of every employee of Air India,” Lohani has written in his letter. He elaborated that while maintaining highest standards of cleanliness and upkeep of all establishments, employees of Air India should remember that they are in the service industry and demonstrate an eagerness to serve customers from the heart with a smile as symbolised by the airline’s mascot ‘the Maharaja’.

He stressed the need to improve efficiency of the entire engineering set-up for reliable and timely availability of aircraft. This would help achieve the CMD’s objective of attaining over time 100 per cent on-time performance. Lohani in his letter has written, “It is absolutely paramount to ensure very high levels of OTP. While the target will always remain 100 per cent, at this initial stage, we should guarantee at least 90 per cent.” Interestingly, as per data available with the national carrier, the airline has been clocking 99 per cent OTP over the last six days.

In its bid to achieve the desired OTP; the CMD has asked all employees to ensure that that there is no compromise on safety related matters. An Air India spokesperson said, “With the continuous effort and team work at Air India, its India region On Time Performance has jumped significantly in the last six days to reach maximum at 99 per cent … Air India will continue to work towards it with same zeal.”

Lohani added, given the “grave crisis” the airline is going through, it is pertinent that at this critical juncture all employees maintain integrity, not “seek and serve petty personal interests” but work with total commitment so that the brand may “soar the skies” again.

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  1. S
    Sep 13, 2015 at 12:13 pm
    Air India needs to be privatised. Hire and fire should be the mantra to weed out sloths. It was once the pride of India. Now it represents the slums of India... Airports in India should also be privatised. Government employees lack leadership and they cant change. Government appointed CEO's are party affiliated and concentrate on looking after their pockets.
    1. J
      Sep 14, 2015 at 1:46 am
      Why should there be a government owned airline? Sell it Govt of India! Air India employees are in most parts inefficient, with exceptions. Their benefits are atrocious, especially the perks of free air travel and upgrades given to relatives of employees. The counter staff give preference to giving upgrades and seats to employees and relatives rather than to paying customers. The lounges are full of staff and relatives who are traveling. In the plane, I have seen stewards extending special favors to children and relatives of staff, including on one occasion giving a w bottle of whiskey wrapped inside a towel. I will also point out that I have had many occasions of good service by Air India staff but the proportion of inefficient incapable and dishonest staff is too high. Run this way AI will never break even. Sell the airline, there is no need for a government airline.
      1. A
        Sep 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm
        Ha ha, flogging a dead horse!
        1. Chandrashekhar Deshpande
          Sep 14, 2015 at 5:12 am
          It is high time to teach lesson to this Pilot and its gang chaired by a leader from NCP. Government should take out the licences and ask the International Federation not to give any employment to these Pilots who otherwise very eager to har the Management of Air India and for that they even do not feel ashame about it. The New MD should open all files related to purchase of Boeings carried out by then Ministry of Aviation and right hand of Sharad Pawar.
          1. C
            Sep 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm
            The organisations like Air India, State Bank and the Indian Railways are all monolithic organisations. The staff represents different generations: freshers; middle aged and old guards. The management finds it difficult to balance these forces. The only solution is to give good VRS to old guard barring retaining a few good and experience hands; trim down the middle cadre and bring in fresh blood with work culture and values using CRM and modern management tools. These freshers can have fixed component of ry and flexible compensation based on their performance. Otherwise these organisations come in news and bleed the public exchequer.
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