Tata Group airlines Air India and AirAsia India signed an agreement on interline considerations on irregular operations (IROPs) that will allow the two airlines to transfer passengers to one another in case of disrupted operations.
While this is the first official move in the direction of two airlines in the Tata Group aviation portfolio cooperating after the Air India takeover, it is also a step towards executing the plan of eventually merging AirAsia India into Air India. In a letter circulated Friday by Air India’s ground handling department to its regional divisions across the country, the airline noted that the agreement — that will be valid till February 9, 2024 — will be applicable only on domestic sectors and the carriage of passengers shall be on an “as available” basis.
Airlines typically enter into such interline agreements with other carriers, especially on routes where they operate limited number of flights to prevent inconvenience to passengers in case of disruptions. These disruptions could occur as a result of extenuating circumstances such as delays, cancellations, diversion of flights.
“The arrangement will enable airport teams of both Air India and AirAsia to offer alternative first available flights so that inconvenience to passengers is minimised,” the letter noted.
With the inclusion of Air India from January 27, the Tata group now has four airline brands in its portfolio: Air India, its low-cost arm Air India Express, AirAsia India (in which it owns 83.6 per cent stake), and Vistara (which is a 51:49 joint-venture with Singapore Airlines). Barring Vistara, the Tata group is likely to put in effect greater synergies among its portfolio airlines.