Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Jun 11, 2004
Air India may capitalise on `brand India'
Mr V. Thulasidas, Air India Chairman & Managing Director
Singapore , June 10
THE Air India Chairman and Managing Director, Mr V. Thulasidas, said here on Wednesday that the new "focus'', as a national carrier, was to "reflect ... the quality that India is coming to symbolise now" on the international stage. He said: "The prognosis (for Air India) is extremely optimistic (and) very good."
In an exclusive interview to Business Line , Mr Thulasidas, who was in Singapore to participate in a conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), outlined the scope for a greater Air-India presence in the South-East Asian region.
Stating that the Singapore authorities had also drawn his attention to the prospects that now existed, he agreed, in response to a question, that an effort could be made to capitalise on the status of India as a brand name in the present circumstances.
The specifics of new avenues for AI in this region would be determined in due course, he said.
As for the issues such as fuel costs and electronic ticketing, which figured during the IATA conference, Mr Thulasidassaid that the "motto" that emerged for airlines wishing to be competitive was: "Simplify business, complexity is costly."
On the current high level of fuel costs, IATA expressed concern. E-ticketing "is a project which IATA would like to see implemented by 2007."
"I am not sure whether 2007 is a really practical or realistic goal or not," he said. As for AI, "a beginning on e-ticketing" was being made, with "a plan already ... drawn up ... for about eight months, starting August 15."
Asked whether e-ticketing could be fool-proof in the context of growing cyber-space crimes, Mr Thulasidas said: "We (at AI) have been using computers (for ticketing purposes) for the last 20 years. Obviously, there are always possibilities of hackers or others causing problems, but there can always be solutions for that also."
E-ticketing, a "convenience" for passengers and has cost-cutting benefits to the industry, "will have to be there" by the time of the proposed launch of the "Air-India Express Service" for the "price-sensitive traveller".
The new service, which would be launched in respect of the Gulf and the West Asian sector by March-April next year, could be extended, at an appropriate time, to South East Asia, where AI would soon be celebrating the golden jubilee of passenger flights.
Looking at this as one option in regard to South East Asia, he said: "Another option was the freed capacity of Air-India being redeployed on several routes, including South East Asia."
A fresh look at this proposition was on the cards in the context of the planned launch of Air-India Express Service.
He said AI will post a profit in regard to 2003-2004, although smaller than [in] the year before on account of several factors, including the lost months at the time of the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in some parts of the world, mainly South East Asia, and the action by the AI pilots during that period.
Asked about passenger-confidence in AI in the global security context, Mr Thulasidas said: "Whatever the requirements of the authorities in India or abroad are, AI is fully complying with those requirements."
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |
Copyright © 2004, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line