Pressure exerted by bureaucrats prevented Air India (AI) from scrapping the companion free (CF) scheme on international sectors.
Under the scheme, passengers buying a first class, business or economy class ticket on AI are entitled to a “companion ticket” on payment of taxes and fuel surcharge.
The aviation ministry, on May 8, ordered AI to stop the scheme on domestic routes.
Top aviation ministry and AI officials told HT that they were in favour of scrapping the CF scheme on international sectors as well but it was pressure from bureaucrats across various ministries of the centra government that prevented them from doing so.
An AI official explained the rationale behind: “Fares for official travels of bureaucrats are paid by the government. There can’t be a better opportunity to take along spouse or kids when one is travelling on government expense to say New York on London when your travel, accommodation and other things are paid for,” he said.
“If they found irregularity and cancelled a scheme, it makes it questionable that they keep that for international flights. Another scheme for milking the airline,” said aviation expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan.