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Air India’s HR Policies Could Change After March

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The airline’s response to recent incidents has not gone down well with the public and authorities alike.

Recent incidents on Air India flights have again put the focus back on the carrier’s employees and operations. Since the Tata Group acquired the airline, there have been high hopes for a culture shift within the company, and, indeed, some changes are visible. But a new report finds out why the airline will have to wait a few months more to implement significant policy changes.

Change required

Air India has faced criticism for the way it handled a disturbing situation involving business class passengers on its New York-Delhi flight. The DGCA has issued the airline a show cause notice, and even the carrier’s top boss has admitted that the situation could have been handled better.

Air India Boeing 777

Photo: Carlos Yudica | Shutterstock

A similar incident also came to light involving the airline’s Paris-Delhi flight in which yet another drunk passenger urinated on the seat while another smoked inside the toilet. Air India has been asked for an explanation for this as well.

While calls for better crew response in Air India have grown stronger, a report by The Economic Times (ET) highlights how the airline can only bring about significant policy changes after March 2023.

Not before March

The Tatas are keen on introducing several policy changes within the airline to promote employee responsibility and accountability. But sources have revealed to ET that their hands are tied until March.

The agreement signed by the Tatas at the time of acquisition stated that they cannot change the “terms of employment” for the airline’s employees for one year. The new owners were keen on introducing new HR policies from January itself, but it was reportedly delayed due to pushback from unions.

Air India Aircraft at Mumbai Airport

Photo: BoeingMan777 | Shutterstock

According to an executive, the new service agreement focuses on new performance and result areas, which will encourage employee productivity and accountability. There are also reports of several employees already embracing a new working culture, although there are some who are resisting the change.

Culture shift

One of the reasons why Air India’s privatization was viewed as a step in the right direction was because of the Tata brand. As a state carrier, Air India was not run efficiently. Even well-meaning employees were bogged down by a culture of apathy and indifference, and that was reflected in the customer-facing side of the business as well. But the Tatas are looking to change that. ET quotes an executive as saying,

“Tatas don’t have a hire-and-fire culture. Air India has therefore created indirect recognition programmes to reward customer-centric behaviours and encourage accountability by taking ownership of outcomes.”

“We are focused on implementing the Tata Code of Conduct by removing biases and prejudices within the organisation. We are encouraging interactive feedback and asking employees to look at facts and data, and not be influenced by rumours and speculation.”

Tail of an Air India Boeing 777

Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

The airline is also aggressively hiring new employees in all departments, as several existing employees are expected to retire in the near future.

The new management has embarked on a five-year transformation plan to make Air India an airline of global repute. It is, indeed, an uphill task, but many believe that if anyone can do it, it’s the Tatas.

What are your views on this? Please leave a comment below.

Source: The Economic Times

  • Tom Boon-200

    Air India

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Campbell Wilson


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