Addressing the delays and cancellations of multiple Air India flights in the past week, MD and CEO of Air India, Campbell Wilson said the airline could have better handled this ‘unusual combination of events”, according to a Mint report.

Air India CEO & MD Campbell Wilson(Reuters)

“There are a lot of circumstances that lead to this – technical issues with the aircraft, technical issues with the ground handling units that are supplied by third parties, the capability of the air conditioning at the airport, the temperature in Delhi, and the wish of some people not to travel,” Wilson told Mint on the sidelines of the 80th annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association. “So, whether it’s better compensation or better communication, there are things that we can learn to do better.”

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On 31 May, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a show-cause notice to Air India for inordinate delays of at least two international flights – AI 183 from Delhi to San Francisco on 30 May and AI 179 from Mumbai to San Francisco on 24 May.

Also Read | DGCA issues notice to Air India after international flight delayed by over 24 hrs

Then on 2 June, an Air India flight from Delhi to Vancouver took off after nearly a 22-hour delay. More than 50 passengers of this flight protested against the airline inside the terminal.

Also Read | Air India Delhi-Vancouver flight faces 22-hour delay, here’s why

In the case of the Delhi-San Francisco flight, Wilson said an auxiliary unit for powering the plane’s air-conditioning had stopped working. The alternative, a jet starter unit, was unable to generate enough power to start the aircraft’s engines, partly due to the extreme heat in Delhi, where temperatures have approached 50 degrees Celsius.

In the case of the delayed Delhi-Vancouver flight, Wilson blamed state-run Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) for delivering an unfit aircraft. The airline was forced to cancel the flight after an inspection revealed that the plane lacked a nozzle, essential for filling drinking water.

AIESL is a public sector undertaking (PSU) that provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services for Air India and other airlines.

The aircraft technicians of AIESL had served a strike notice for April 23, urging their CEO to address their grievances, including not being promoted for the last seven years, being forced to serve their notice periods from one to three months while the stated notice period is for six months, not receiving promised salary hikes for two years, and dearness allowance not being included in salaries within a period of 90 days, according to a report by Hindustan Times.

Existing agreements which require Air India to rely on AIESL for maintenance are set to lapse by the end of this year, according to a report by The Hindu Business Line.

Over the next 18 months, Air India hopes to kickstart its in-house line-maintenance and set up base maintenance facilities for narrow-body and wide-body aircraft in Bengaluru, in partnership with Singapore Airlines Engineering Company Ltd, the Mint report read.

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