National carrier Air India (AI) is trying to improve its sagging image after it formally joins Star Alliance, the leading global alliance of airlines, as its 27th member on Friday.
First- and business-class passengers will be able to taste and choose their food once the carrier joins the Alliance.
Flight caterer TajSATS has been roped in by AI to improve the onboard food service on select domestic and international routes.
According to TajSATS director for food production Satish Arora, the 'Table setup' has been conceptualised to provide opportunity to savour tailor-made dishes based on individual tastes and preferences.
First- and business- class passengers will get priority and row-wise boarding, and meal service will be in three separate courses (now everything on the menu is served all-in-one) and there will be a vastly improved wine list to choose from.
There will be no change in meals or the caterer for economy-class passengers as the airline feels it already serves some of the best food on long-haul flights.
Apart from a better choice of food, the airline has also approached the National Institute of Fashion Technology to redesign a new uniform for its cabin crew which will be effective from the winter schedule this year.
"Women will still wear sarees aboard AI flights but these will be newly designed ones," an airline official said.
The Oberoi chain will also be tapped to offer gourmet meals to business-class passengers of Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights to various overseas destinations.
"We are trying to improve and match the inflight service standards of international competitors and other major global airlines which operate from Indian airports," said an AI official.
A top AI official said these changes will initially be made only on B787 overseas flights from airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad and extended to first-class passengers on other flights subsequently.
On the operational front, engineers will conduct a flight inspection three hours before departure to improve its ontime performance. After a long time, the airline will come out with a new service manual in next three to four days.
Each crew member will have specified tasks.
After AI joins the Alliance, a passenger would be able to access the destinations offered by the entire group network of over 21,980 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries. All member airlines jointly own 4,338 aircraft which fly over 640 million passengers a year. Air India would add about 400 daily flights.
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