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Sunday, May 15, 2016

The turmoil within - continues

Air India is now slowly getting back on track, yet it is still miles to go before one can relax and watch the planes fly, albeit without the need to constantly worrying and fretting.

Eight months at the helm of the national carrier has been a hectic affair. With almost everything in disarray, be it operations or engineering, public image or commercial, finance or even personnel, it was fairly obvious even to a novice like me that what this organization indeed lacked was that one magical word “leadership”. I wonder why the powers that be never appreciate this basic realization, here there and everywhere. And therefore the never ending search for solutions that always failed to deliver.

Earlier I always believed that the great indian railways was the mother of all bureaucracies, but not any longer. Here at the national carrier the ridiculousness of the process and the diehard belief therein has been carried to a mind boggling extent. And the gross failure to look after the human resource while at the same time cursing the organization for its failure to look after oneself is by itself a joke.

The market is there for the taking, yet procrastination that the company has of late come to specialize in has ensured that the failure to make hay while the sun shines is always delved after the time has passed. Our recent successes in all the new flights that we mounted has strengthened my belief in the power of the gut and risk taking, an art in which all the successful industrialists of the nation have been excelling in since time immemorial. Yet we never learnt so far!

The tremendous potential of an individual, that is often explained as “kundalini jagran” in all ancient hindu texts has also never been understood. How can an organization that loses no opportunity in deriding its own men and making them unhappy, find faults with them for lack of deliverance is what I have always failed to fathom. And it is not merely air india, similar has been my experience though on a lower scale during my stints with the lifeline of the nation or the hospitality majors at the national and state levels. Perhaps the inability to apply on one’s own self, the rules of the game that we often expect others to comply with is unfortunately the reason.

It makes me sad when the common employee is often blamed for the ills of the organization, in this case too, whereas the real reason for the debacle lies elsewhere, in my opinion on the head honcho. An organization is only as good or as bad as the head honcho, everything else is merely a symptom. A merger that really never happened and in the process resulted in a chaotic situation is at the back of all ills that we are currently witness to. And the bunch of people manning the top slots left no stone unturned in ensuring that their focus does not shift from their own selves and simultaneously shifting the blame to the men at large, an act in which they have been successful so far........ 

The role of the watchdogs is also really what dogs do. They wait and watch and jump at the slightest hint of movement and in the process create an environment where movement if any is at the peril of the mover. How can a outside agency be entrusted with the task of ensuring probity in public life, it is simply the job of the executive and if he is lacks integrity, the organization does not have a future either way. Unfortunately while in most of the peripheral areas, we continue to imbibe the western culture, we conveniently look the other way when it comes to imbibing their style of governance.

And those watching on the sidelines and passing comments or giving ideas have to be many and they are. Many of them may not have excelled in their own sphere of activities while in saddle, yet profess to know how others should be doing their job. My steadfast refusal to be the medium through which others settle scores is borne out of the conviction to run the organization my way and deliver, not how the fence sitters perceive it should be.

The mess is by no stretch of imagination a minor one, yet it has to and shall be sorted out. This time consuming exercise has to be gone through and the price would have to be paid, either way. Turning around is not an attempt, it is a foregone conclusion, despite the plethora of handicaps and with this thought at the back of our minds, we are moving ahead.



  1. Dear Sir,

    Request you to kindly refer an idea at the below link. If tou take this idea forward with full energy ,this will make your airline richer.


    Pankaj Srivastava

  2. Sir,

    I am only expressing this in national interest.
    Since, you have taken the initiative to do a turnaround, this idea will assist you.

  3. Your latest blog gives a ray of hope.

    With best wishes.

  4. At last.... Here we have a messiah who has nailed it.... Grasped the root cause..., open approachable & only agenda is getting us out of the mess
    My only wish & prayer ... Please let him stay on & steer this movement .... Let's all give him our fullest cooperation & support

  5. Sir, Calling a spade a spade is fine but are you being able change the mindset of the "dogs", as you so expressively said. will you be able to move them out??
    All the best!

    1. Why is so much publicity being given to a measly eight crore " operational""profit, when you and I both know that the net loss is still in thousands of crores? ( Mainly due the servicing of the huge loans and the past losses). Is it just give a feel good factor? OR is it that you are constrained as a PSU in expanding unless you show a profit(however much misleading) ?

  6. Very well written, Mr. Lohani. I wish you all the best in putting it into practice.

  7. How can it be any other way ?????

    The visionary speaks.....anchoring within him an aroused Kundalini !

    He strives to release the Company Karma of it's negative vibes.....he Believes and Lives the Philosophy.....that the Soul is good......here the Soul is the Workforce of this mighty company Air India Ltd.......

    The Governance.....the energy has to be Strong .....and Vibrant......and Dynamic....Not Static.....and not a Watch Dog either......yet if it could be said.....like the Gentle Sheep Dog...who gives freedom to it's flock ...yet protects it from harm...

    Today we have a Gentle.....Dynamic......Vibrant Soul who has appeared to Lead Air India.....with Compassion and Firmness.....into it's rightful place in the Sun.....

    May Shri Ashwani Lohani be Blessed abundantly by the Universe...as he anchors the Cosmic Vibrations Of Abundance...and Good Governance...which resonates so truly with his Magnificient Soul.....

    Tathastu !

    1. I agree with you . May he get the AIrline out if debt. I have suggested an idea to him, which if taken with courage can turn a round the debt

  8. Sir, what the organisation needs is a revolutionary approach to problem solving rather than the evolutionary approach that is in vogue now.

  9. Dear sir
    You have put the airline back on track. You are the only CMD who has put his employee's first. Happy employee's lead to happy and satisfied passenger's. Airindia is in safe hand's today and we have full faith in you Sir.
    Gauri Kumar.

  10. Dear sir
    You have put the airline back on track. You are the only CMD who has put his employee's first. Happy employee's lead to happy and satisfied passenger's. Airindia is in safe hand's today and we have full faith in you Sir.
    Gauri Kumar.

  11. Dear Sir,
    Superbly observed and penned down what lies within this Establishment called Air India.
    Looking at what you have been trying I do have hope for a future of the employees at large in the organisation. But I guess you will have to start taming these dogs and show them their place soon.
    Your understanding is apt and now soon you will have to take steps to curb the Nazism in the larger Interest of the Airlines and it's employees.

  12. Dear Sir,
    Superbly observed and penned down what lies within this Establishment called Air India.
    Looking at what you have been trying I do have hope for a future of the employees at large in the organisation. But I guess you will have to start taming these dogs and show them their place soon.
    Your understanding is apt and now soon you will have to take steps to curb the Nazism in the larger Interest of the Airlines and it's employees.








  14. Dear Mr Lohani,
    It is good to finally see an Air India head who communicates and has a positive approach. I have very closely seen rostering of cabin crew in the airlines. They perennially have a problem of crew shortage. The crew are blamed for it. The actual problem lies at the managerial level. Managers seem brainless and HR is most pathetic. When a person applies for leave it isn't sanctioned easily. At the drop of a hat leave embargoes are put in, such as leave in December only for Christians etc. Everybody has a personal life which HR should respect. You have no fixed day-off to plan a day with your family and dear ones. Would you expect an employee to be just wedded to the airline and forget his/her family? Cabin Crew as a result report sick which puts the scheduling haywire and delays flights. If leave was easy to get this malady would come down significantly.
    I am a manager and run a department. No employee is denied leave nor do I place embargoes. I ask all to apply for leave in advance and maintain a transparent leave planning. My subordinates always see the leave details of others and adjust their dates. I know this is not possible in a large organization but being humane is definitely possible.
    Hope that you will look into this matter. I assure you it will yield great dividends and help improve the outlook and performance of your employees.
    With best wishes,

  15. Sir you have homed in on the problems. In your own words, "The market is there for the taking, yet the procrastination that the company has of late come to specialize has ensured that the failure to make hay while sun shines is always delved after the time has passed". Do you know why? It is because the people who man RM does not have either the exposure or the wisdom to know when to act leaving air India the dregs at the last moment. Talk to those in the field, brings them to your office for one on one chat and they will tell. RM is about forecasting and optimization. Optimization there are two things, what the PROS do based on last year same flight and current booking and then forecast and what the route controller will do based on market information in real time. If you take a flight London/Delhi and do an unconstrained demand will see that flights will go well over the actual seat availability. But then you have know how to optimize and that does not mean closing all lower classes 365 days before flight and expect passengers to buy the higher classes. For inventory and price optimization you must understand psycographics of each segment. Take the route London/Singapore and for a year well over 2 million passengers travel yet Air India does not take any passengers on that routing via Delhi or Mumbai and will have ample empty seats except in the high peak on London/Delhi and Delhi/Singapore. Sir if you can tackle the RM front then the airline problems are solved because you will have advance sales (right now Air India does not have much advance sales like other airlines) and with that strong cash flow. Then you will solve all other problems and even can do fund management with all the hard currency that comes in.

  16. Dear Sir

    I would like express my happiness as you are publicly acknowledging and pinpointing the exact malady plaguing this company.I would like bring my concerns to your notice.

    In the engineering wing, bureaucracy is well prevalent and we have few more people added as consultants.These consultants, retired executives, are entrusted important portfolios like aircraft leasing and assessing manpower.Aircraft leasing requires people with long service, so that during lease return ,continuity is not lost.Aircraft leasing documentation should be entrusted to middle level managers.Manpower issue was in this bad shape because these consultants while in service never projected the correct picture.They created the manpower crisis and now, returned after retirement to solve the problem!!!

    Sir, we have full faith in you and share the same goal of prosperity of this company.I am not writing this to blame anyone.But, my request to you is give opportunity to youngsters in service,rather than retired people esp.engineering.The future of this company is in younger generation hands and please give them a chance to show their talent.Sir, surely we will not disappoint you.

  17. It is refreshing to read the blog of a CMD where human resources are seen as important. In fact, people are the core of any organisation. And the reason why the merger didn't take place completely is because the humans in both AI and IA were ignored. This approach of keeping people ahead of everything else is fine, but please be astute enough to see that the right people approach you with advice. A section in the airline has been completely ignored and it is for you to see who they are and address their problems. All the best in your future endeavors.

  18. Dear Mr. Lohani,

    Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad are run at the middle and lower level by Indians. This speaks volumes about the same topic you talked of - it is basically leadership that makes the difference.

  19. Dear Ashwini,
    We are proud of you. You will deliver same way as always. ‘If there is one man who can deliver it is I am although I am not saying I am the only one.’ I hope you take over reins of the Indian Railways. We are in shambles and are not taking full advantage of boldness of MR and PM.
    Anirudh Mithal
    General Manager (Retd), Indian Railways.

  20. As a passenger who was there in the early days of inter-modal unitised cargo movements in India after a stint abroad, I have the following queries please.

    1) Why are the older aircraft not being used for air-cargo, why do we see mostly foreign carriers in the cargo business in India please?

    2) Why is the catering onboard providing non-FSSAI standardised packaged products on AI/IC flights please?

    3) Why is the reality of experienced cabin crew especially in case of emergencies not stressed as a plus point for passengers please?

    4) Why are the classic A-320 aircraft on sale and lease back and at what terms please?

    Thanks much.

  21. Victory is won not in miles but in inches.
    Win a little now and hold your ground and win a little more later...

    Try and identify a good team to pass this turmoil more smoothly and efficiently.
    Change the team and get young but experienced people work for you.
    Think beyond those near you.

    Its easy to go back like a Triumph without Glory, but difficult to move on.
    Be a part of creating History.

  22. Sir....
    Why are erstwhile WB BOM crew NOT being trained on 787 a/c?
    Why are only ÑB BOM crew being trained.
    I have put in 25 years of service in Bom WB crew but never been scheduled for 787 conversion.. why this favouritism towards ÑB?

    You publicly say "no difference for me between the two " ... Sorry Sir you have all your top bosses as ÑB people ONLY...
    Naturally they protect their lot ; promote their lot; and I m still waiting for for my senior manager promotion whilst NB girls who are junior to me have got it...

  23. We media journalists are still waiting for the day when Mr.Lohani stops praising his own self by posting comments in the name of Anonymous user.. Stop praising yourself and face the media Mr.Lohani. Covering yourself doesn't do any good.

  24. Sir, It is good to praise staff and work however it must be worthy of the same. My personal experience a on 29th May 2016 to 31st May 2016 has been terrible and shattering. Talk about the people, their attitude and behaviour or the process, nothing is indifferent. Widely known for irresponsible and non-committed. Air-India represent India in international area but carries no value and trust and I have lived it. I have suffered financial loss, tarnish reputation and mental harassment due to Air India. I am looking forward for the connect who can see it and feel it and brings changes. I can be reached at 91-9819848851 and kesarwani_roli@yahoo.com. I hope to be connected by people to understand the issue.

  25. Should I say KHUDOS!!!!! on promoting known and proven dishonest & corrupt officials to the grade of Executive Directors.
    Will you change Air India with such corrupts.

  26. Truly Enlightening !

    That Employees have been AI's greatest strength has long since been known,
    that Its HR has been its worst enemy has also been known -as have the travesty of merger mistakes.

    BUT IT TAKES TRUE COURAGE for a CMD to Say so - and in doing so, Exhibit Rare LEADERSHIP and Put the past behind and move forward to try and change things.

    Your Path is Indeed revolutionary Sir, and your thoughts are like a Breath of Fresh air blowing through the dark corridoors of Rajiv Gandhi bhavan, where over the years mistake over mistake have piled on to Air India.
    Where sadly, the Employee has borne the brunt of the worst over these years, perhaps you are the Change.

    We as Employees shall Stand side by Side, in the new dawn of Hope that you bring to our Airline,
    Lead us into a new Light,
    Wish you well and Best regards

  27. Dear Ashwani Lohani ji

    As an Indian currently pursuing doctoral studies in the USA (Cornell University) I have to do fair amount of international travel and my friends have to do it also. For myself I have always used your flights AI101/2 NDLS<-->JFK because of following reasons, in order of priority :

    1) Safety record of AIR INDIA neglecting subsidiaries etc is excellent. There has not been plane crash since 1990.

    2) Related to the above : Pilot of AIR INDIA is generally excellent with smooth landing and clean, rapid descent with minimum of banking and course correction. Especially, incident of AI144 in July 2014 wherein pilots (Capt GAUTAM VERMA et al) landed MTOW 777 after one engine flameout at altitude 100 feet is very creditable and a contributing factor.

    3) Direct flight provides distinct advantage which we are all aware.

    4) Flight has good punctuality record.

    5) In B77W aircraft, 9 seats per row are used in economy class rather than 10.

    6) In flight service is functional and food is acceptable.

    7) B77W aircraft have economy seats in front of the jets, where the sounds are great during takeoff and climb.

    Nevertheless I have seen that most of my friends do not prefer to use the airline. The reasons given by them are :

    1) In-flight entertainment is bad. (I find it passable, not AI's strongest suit but it's very low on my priorities)

    2) The flights are late. (Even though they can be seen to be punctual on most days, still).

    In general I can see that AIR INDIA not have such a good impression among my friends. Becoming too long will continue it in the next post.

  28. From the previous......

    One reason for this bad publicity came out few days back when relative was travelling (AI771 HWH-SBC). Due to technical reason flight was delayed by 3 hours. I can fully understand that - I would much rather prefer that if there is a glitch then the flight be cancelled than that it crash. Lekin, the staffs did not inform anyone of anything and the passengers were just made to wait with no information about what has gone wrong, whether the flight will go etc. Needless to say, my relative was irate after the experience. He has promised to travel INDIGO henceforth.

    So I was asking that is it possible to somehow improve the image which AIR INDIA has in public mind ? For example, the training standards of pilot can be highlighted, incident of AI144 and similar can also be emphasized. When on American Airlines 1549, Capt Chelsea Sullmenberger landed the stricken aircraft w/o engine on Hudson river, he become national hero. But why Gautam Verma ji is not celebrated as hero ? There was hardly any publicity of the incident only from specialized aviation magazine I hear of it. Yet his action saved 350 lives on that day, he deserve Bharat Ratna for his actions.

    I do not want to waste your time any further but I think you can get the gist of what I am trying to convey.

    Thanking you,

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Cornell University

  29. I am an NRI an travel to India from Washington DC on a regular basis. Unfortunately there is no direct flight out of Washington DC to Delhi from Washington. I have per force to take an Emirates flight, go to Dubai, change and reach Delhi. I do not like to experience of changing flights in the middle east be it Qutar, Emirates or any other airline. To me it appears a waste of time to land in middle east when I see on the air map, were the plane to continue straight on, it would reach India. A majority of these flights are filled by Indians paying full fare. I can assure you that should AIR INDIA get a little creative you could fill your plane in Washington DC without any problem. I wonder if your AIR LINE understands that Indian travel to India at specific times when there are holidays here and there is a sustained Traffic to India all year around. The flights operating out of Newark and New York are decidedly inconvenient for us and unnecessarily add time and expense to our travel. I strongly recommend that AIR INDIA start a flight from Washington DC to Delhi it will be extremely convenient for the large Indian community living in the area as well as neighboring states. It is strange that AIR INDIA does not venture out to new routes and feel the market and grow its share on the basis of convenience and service. I strongly feel that you will not only provide a convenience to a lot of Indian and non Indian passengers but also make a profit on the flight.

  30. Greetings Mr. Lohani,

    I enjoy your blog and other information on the web. The true reason I have discovered more about you is of my latest travel issue. An issue that can pain the heart for the sufferer, but to the bystander or an individual on the outside, not an issue. Today March 8 2017 would have been my fourth flight to your lovely country, hopefully soon Ill be living amongst you. It was my mission this trip to find a place to live. I was going to schedule additional Air India flights within my 5 week stay in the country.
    Many factors destroyed this trip I so needed. Getting a new passport, although I still had a valid passport-soon to expire and a 10 year Indian visa, the visa was attached with the old visa. I booked my trip, flight AI144 out of Newark NJ. I utilized travel agent MY TICKETS TO INDIA. It was the perfect flight, no stops, midday departure and arrival. I have traveled extensively never with an issue. Its actually relatively simple.
    Unless something goes wrong. This was the first trip I did not purchase travel insurance. I tried something different. The problems began last Friday when I received new passport with no visa. I immediately called US Passport Office who told me old passport with visa was mailed 1st class mail on Friday the 3rd. Fine, 1st class mail, I will receive. So I waited until 48 hours prior to flight and picked a seat, another action I never do. Monday the 6th arrives no passport, so I begin calling Air India Newark to correct this, or what action I can take to correct this. No answer, many numbers, I know them by memory, I called so often. This began well in advance of the 24 hour cutoff before flight. I also was on phone extensively with Air India support located in India, and the travel agent.
    Travel agent stated they were powerless due to the fact I chose my seat. They continued to send me back to Air India support in India, who I am sorry to say could not help me, or offer any advice on what to do. I was being sent to Air India online to look up contacts, I must have called 40 times, not one answer, although someone may have tried a call back after flight had departed.
    Let me get to the point, reading your blog and postings you seem to be a fair man and if these words are to be true that you publish, how can your company run this way, at least on my level that I deal with.
    I worked 31 years as accountant and also paid 5000 employees a week. They were my concern, as any of your passengers are to you. Its very saddening that I could get absolutely no assistance to correct this before every involved entity was guaranteed their money. I still really haven't received help. Actually I'm just stating rules that I lost. I did receive Visa an hour after flight departed.

    Thank You for you time

    booking reference-3DJ5AE