Monday, May 24, 2010

Air India Express

I first boarded a flight to Dubai in 1997 and have subsequently flown to the destination every year. My travel agent recommended we travel business class since the price differential was only rupees five thousand. We chose not to listen to him and were amazed to see the multitude of people who travelled to the Middle East. Many preferred to squat on the carpet of the airport waiting area. They represented the labour from India that supports to Middle East economy in all their industries. People who supported families in India and made their dreams come true.

The journey wasn’t very comfortable and we listened to the travel agent from the next year. Over the years we watched the business class prices rise and the seats shrink. When Etihad airlines launched its India operations in 2004 at a fraction of the fare offered by the lead players in the sector, it changed the rules of the game. Etihad Airlines is the national airline of Abu Dhabi and they offered a free pick up and drop shuttle service to and from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. A huge chunk of the price sensitive market moved to their counters forcing Air India to re-launch its price sensitive segment to the Air India Express. The consumer profile of the economy passenger changed and we once again constituted the segment.

The recent Air India crash is in this budget sector. It has taken the lives of people who may not appear on the pages of Fortune or Financial papers but comprise the individual on whom many a person in South India depend on for financial support. While everyone blames someone else for the cause of the crash, as someone who has commuted to Mangalore in a Air India flight, who has friends in Mangalore, who knows people who were planning a journey on this flight and who has interacted with people who migrate to distant lands to lead a lonely harsh life only to make the lives of people back home better, this is a tragedy that is heartfelt.

However one doesn’t really think Air India will really learn or do anything after this catastrophe. In a country of one billion people the life of a common man has rarely been of much consequence. It just makes for wonderful TRP ratings in news channels.

10 comments:

  1. Absolutely true. Very well said.

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  2. Does it really...I know it is a disaster but where were your emotions when other similar (but not identical) disasters happened and that too within a span of few months, like sinking of ferry, turtling of Buses in some nondescript village of Bihar, or massacre of soldiers at Orissa, West Bengal and Chattisgarh.

    We all love TRP, and soon when some other incident happens, we will cry and get hooked to it.

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  3. it is indeed sad to know the truth. We have become cynical about death and destruction :(

    TRP is the name of the game these days...people's emotions are just words these days...it makes me really sad...

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  4. Very True! I feel it will be soon forgotten like it never happened!!

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  5. True.. Its sad that the crash took place in my native place, Mangalore (this is the 1st time in Mangalore). :( Hope the Boeing team who are here in Mangalore do some proper investigation on this and avoid future Air incidents..

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  6. Well, its true most the bread winner of the family perished and that is really sad.

    I travelled through this sector couple of times this year though my final destination was South Africa. Both the times while returning to India, I had to fill the immigration form for my co-passenger sitting next to me. It was a total surprise to me and was sure they should be working at very low level in Middle east.

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  7. Yeah, even I feel, not much will come out of this incident

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  8. I guess it is upto bloggers like us to make a difference and not let this issue be lost ...

    The Media is on Social Media now, lets look at getting them to talk about these things until action is taken.

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  9. In India, deaths don't count unless they are celebs or BIG businessmen. That is the sad truth.

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  10. I fail to see the point being made on this air crash affecting the "common man" because its a (state-run) budget airline segment. The Indian Airlines crash in Bangalore claimed possibly the most influential member of the Birla clan at that time. Did the country or the airline respond any differently?

    By all accounts this seems to be a case of human error (by someone of non-Indian, developed-country origin if you please). There is every reason to investigate it thoroughly and come up with measures to prevent recurrence.

    To link the response/reaction measures to the strata of people flying the airline seems a trifle misplaced.

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