Patel tells Air India to 'perform or perish'
Flag carrier Air India was on Saturday asked by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to either perform or perish due to competition from a new crop of international airlines that excel in service.
"It is a tough statement I make... Either they perform or they perish because ultimately it is a consumer interface," he said in an interview to NDTV on the eve of the 60th anniversary of Air India's first international flight.
The 76-year-old airline has a poor brand image among travellers and was in fact named the Indian company with the worst corporate reputation by US-based Reputation Institute this year.
Observing that the airline was accountable to its customers to avoid the risk of being over-run by competition, he said it was customer satisfaction which would drive the airline and not a ministerial diktat from Delhi.
Last year, the government merged state-run Indian airlines, which operated on domestic and short-haul international routes, with Air India to enable the carrier take on competition from other private international carriers.
But with private Indian airlines allowed to fly to the Gulf, a route that was previously reserved for the national carrier, Air India faces turbulent skies crowded by better-equipped competitors.