'Two more years for Air India, Indian integration'
Thursday, 27 March 2008, 07:00 Hrs
New Delhi: The operational integration of state-run carriers Air India and Indian will take two more years even as more funds will be sought from the government for fleet expansion, Raghu Menon, the newly appointed chairperson of the merged carriers, said Thursday. "It's, after all, the merger of two different cultures," Menon, who will take over the reins from incumbent V. Thulasidas from April 1, told reporters here, a day after he was named chairperson of the National Aviation Company of India (NACIL). "Six percent of the work pertaining to the merger will be completed in a year and the rest will take another year," said Menon, who was previously a special secretary in the civil aviation ministry. "Mergers generally take two-three years. We are expediting the process." Air India and Indian Airlines were amalgamated into a separate company, NACIL, in August last year and it was also decided that there would be just one brand name - Air India - for both domestic and international operations. According to Menon, who will enjoy the rank and perks of a secretary, more funds may be sought from the government for acquiring aircraft and to ensure a world-class service from the airline. "We are in the process of procuring 111 aircraft. We could ask government for additional funds for this purpose. Let us draw out plans before we submit our case," he told reporters at the Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan. "We will try to get more equity in the company." Listing his other priorities, the new chairman said unwanted expenditures will be cut even as the airline will get a facelift both in image and service. "We are definitely not looking at cutting manpower but to make it more productive." He said the airline would go all out to ensure customer satisfaction and will make the staff and unions understand this as well. "We will endeavour to ensure that passengers flying with us feel good and have a memorable experience." He said priority would also be given to ensure that aircrafts fly on time. "We can improve our load factors and we can do it once we change our image and create a passenger-friendly approach."