With an aim to lure more passengers and sell-off its vacant seats in business class, financially stressed Air India has launched a scheme for passengers to upgrade their economy class tickets to business class.
Breifing reporters about the new scheme Air India CMD Pradeep Singh Kharola said that passengers can save up to 75 per cent on cost if upgrading via the new online offer to destination in the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong and on flights among six metro cities of the country.
The scheme launched in December allows passengers to bid an incremental amount or difference between economy class fare they have already paid and that of the business class seat. There would also be a cap on the minimum bid a passenger can make.
In case of a passenger, who made the bid, but was not able to get the upgrade, the entire amount will be returned.
Besides, the financially-strained airline is trying to ratilionlise catering cost by loading extra on-board meals, that can be served on the return journey of international flights.
According to Kharola, the airline has already started to stock extra meals for the entire two-way trip to destinations like Stockholm, Copenhagen, Birmingham and Madrid.
Accordingly, the airline intends to save on catering expenses as domestic vendors cost 3-4 times less than their international counterparts.
Further, the airline plans carry extra meals on the flights to Gulf region.
In addition, the airline has recieved a bid from Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for its iconic 23-storey — Air India Building — located at Nariman Point in Mumbai.
The cash-strapped airline has recieved loans worth Rs 2,000 crore from the National Small Savings Fund, while the Central government will be infusing Rs 2,345 crore into the financially strained national carrier under its ‘Turn Around Plan’.
The steps to financially revive the airline, comes after the government had offered to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India. However, the state-owned carrier failed to attract any bidder.
On May 31, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that “no response” was received even during the extended submission deadline for the EOI bids under Air India’s divestment process and the “further course of action will be decided appropriately”.