Air India privatisation: After 15% decline in advance bookings, officials to rope in travel agents

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Published on Feb 10, 2020 12:04 AM IST
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ByNeha LM Tripathi, Mumbai

National carrier Air India has witnessed a dip of around 15% in ticket bookings after the government issued an expression of interest (EoI) to privatise the airline last month. Owing to this drop, Air India is approaching travel agents to assure passengers that their money spent on bookings would not be stuck as only the owner would change after the airline is privatised.

“Summer vacations are one of the peak periods for air travel. However, according to statistics of bookings made till March, the airline has lost a considerable number of passengers, which is worrying the management,” a senior Air India official said. Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said that as the disinvestment process for the airline has commenced, the owner of the carrier may soon change, but the airline will continue to fly. “To assure our esteemed passengers and build a positive buzz in the market, the airline has taken a step to reach out to travel agents,” Kumar said

As the airline sees a majority of bookings from Metro cities, it has focussed on approaching agents in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru.

“Meetings with major travel agents in Delhi and Mumbai were conducted last month. Travel agents spoke about passengers’ fears and their distrust in the airline’s ability to continue operations in the coming months. Due to this, passengers are not booking tickets with the national carrier,” the official said.

After meeting travel agents in the Metro cities, the airline plans to organise similar meetings with international travel agents.

Air India has an accumulated debt of around 60,000 crore. Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri had in January described the situation of the national carrier as “very fragile”. Puri had also said that after failing to sell the airline’s majority stakes in 2018, the government has worked on critical areas this time to make the disinvestment bid more attractive to prospective bidders.

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