Air India inks deals to buy AirAsia India

Upon Tata Sons acquisition of full ownership, the Bengaluru-based company was subsidiarised under Tata Sons’ 100 per cent-owned Air India…reports Asian Lite News

Air India on Wednesday announced that it has signed agreements to complete the acquisition of 100 per cent shareholding in AirAsia India (AAI) and to subsidiarise it under Air India.

An operational review process is underway with a view to ultimately integrating AAI fully with Air India Express (AIXL). Consolidation of these two airlines, both of which operate as low-cost carriers, will be undertaken as part of the restructuring roadmap that is being envisioned for the Tata Group’s airline business and is expected to bring customer, revenue, cost and operational benefits through broader adoption of each airlines’ best practices, systems and routes, and the combined entity’s greater scale.

Air India CEO and MD Campbell Wilson said: “We are excited to initiate the creation of a single Air India Group low-cost carrier. This is a key step in the rationalisation and transformation of the Group, and we will be working closely with the management teams and staff throughout the process. We also look forward to the many new opportunities a stronger AI Group low-cost carrier will bring for customers and staff alike.”

A working group has been formed to evaluate and execute the integration of the AI Group’s low-cost operations, which will be co-led by Sunil Bhaskaran, CEO & MD, AirAsia India and Aloke Singh, CEO, Air India Express. The working group will report to a committee chaired by Wilson.

The assessment and implementation of full integration process of AAI and AIXL, through a possible scheme of merger or otherwise and subject to necessary corporate approvals, is expected to take approximately 12 months, with network and other synergies to be realised progressively during that period.

Founded by the legendary JRD Tata, Air India is synonymous with the growth and evolution of civil aviation in India. Since its first flight on October 15, 1932, Air India has spread its wings to become a major international airline with a network across the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Far East and South-East Asia, Australia and the Gulf.

The airline also has an extensive domestic network connecting over 55 cities in the country through its fleet of narrow and wide-bodied aircraft. Air India has been a member of Star Alliance, the largest global airline consortium, since July 2014.

Air Asia India, launched in 2014, as a joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysia’s Air Asia Berhad, operates a fleet of 29 aircraft that flies over 50 direct and 100 connecting routes across India.

Upon Tata Sons acquisition of full ownership, the Bengaluru-based company was subsidiarised under Tata Sons’ 100 per cent-owned Air India.

Meanwhile, Air India, which had not recruited in the non-operations areas for more than 15 years, has started adding talent in all spheres of its business.

The airline’s aggressive expansion plan, which has already seen 17 long-grounded aircraft return to the skies with 12 more to follow, and the lease-in of 30 narrow- and wide-body aircraft over the next 12 months, also necessitates a significant expansion in flying crew.

The first phase of this initiative to augment talent has received an overwhelming response. Over 1,752 applications for pilots and 72,000 applications for cabin crew have been received in the last two months, which are in the process of assessment.

Interest from management post-graduates with three years’ experience to fill ground based-business roles has been similarly strong, with over 25,000 applications received in little more than one week. On appointment, those selected will be placed in various functions in Air India, including airport operations, commercial, engineering and human resources among others, and will form an important part of Air India’s internal talent and future leadership pipeline.

Whether it is commercial functions like revenue management, sales, distribution, network planning and marketing or Business Support Services, including HR, finance, IT and analytics; as well as Operations, spanning inflight product design, ground, engineering and airport services, rostering and operations control, talent will be added to all the sections.

Placing high priority on becoming a world leader in information technology, Air India has received more than 2,000 applications for a New Tech centre at Kochi, Kerala, including developers, architects, cyber security professionals, programme managers and UX/ visual designers among others.

Commenting on the focus on next-gen talent acquisition, Suresh Dutt Tripathi, Chief Human Resources Officer, Air India, said, “An entire generation of workforce has missed the opportunity to work for Air India due to limited recruitment over the years. We are seeking to make up for this organisational gap as we work to make Air India the world’s leading airline with customer focus at the heart of its operations.

“Our talent acquisition initiative is focused on identifying and recruiting the right talent in order to ensure that our human resource capabilities keep pace with the growth momentum and evolving needs of the organisation.”

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