Less than a week after the government mentioned Air India among its sick public sector companies and hinted at its possible closure, it has emerged that a costume makeover is underway for the cabin crew.
According to airline sources, the new uniform, which comprises black and yellow sarees for air hostesses and blue pin-striped shirts and blue trousers for flight pursers, has cost the loss-making airline approximately Rs 8-10 crore.
A circular issued by the airline’s in-flight services department on March 4 said the crew will switch to the new uniform from March 28.
“Initially, the women cabin crew will be issued two sarees and four blouse materials and the male crew will be given materials for shirts and trousers with ties,” the circular read.
The AI spokesperson did not respond to HT’s query on the new expense. The debt-ridden airline has been struggling to turn profitable despite more cash pumped into it by the government.
The accumulated losses of Air India stood at Rs 5,388.82 crore in 2013-14, as against Rs 5,490 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 7,559 crore in 2011-12.
On Thursday, Vivek Gupta, MP from the Trinamool Congress, raised questions about how shortage of crew, engineering snags because of lack of spares had delayed more than 50% of AI operations in January.
“At a time when the airline needs to spend judiciously on manpower and other primary requirements such as aircraft spares, they have decided to spend on new uniforms,” said a senior AI official.
Facing pay cuts and cancellation of other perks, the makeover plan has not gone down well with flight attendants. Angry reactions surfaced on a social media page created by the AI cabin crew. “Ridiculous amounts!! Give us our arrears first please...We have toiled enough!!” read a comment.