Vinod Mathew

Mumbai, Feb. 20

CONSIDER the plight of a student in a medical college forced to hire cadavers for the dissection table. A popular Hindi movie last year had built a whole reel around this hilarious motif. Hiring an aircraft for aspiring airhostesses may not quite fall under such a category, but a defunct aircraft is what the Delhi-based Air Hostess Academy (AHA) plans to buy in the next couple of months.

AHA, that has till date flown out some 300 stewardesses from its classrooms over the past eight years, the time may have finally arrived for acquiring its version of cadaver - an abandoned aircraft of its own. According to Ms Sapna Gupta, Chief Consultant, AHA, such an acquisition would materialise by the March-end for lessons in simulated in-flight conditions for wannabe stewardesses.

For the uninitiated, a purchase such as this is the sum total of a few dozen purchases of various parts of an aircraft.

And the deals would be consummated in junkyards for aircraft that have been grounded for good.

"We are in talks with some of the junkyards in Miami and Bangkok where such abandoned aircraft have their final resting place. It is a tedious process. The aggregate of these purchases has to add up to a full aircraft. We are looking for a Boeing class plane and it is likely to cost us anywhere up to Rs 3 crore, depending on the parameters," Ms Gupta told Business Line.

The purchase, per se, does not mark the end of the deal, as the aircraft parts that get shipped into India will need to get assembled in Delhi. AHA, of course, is hoping to have the aircraft ready for the use of its students in the next academic year and bid adieu to the hitherto followed practice of falling back upon the availability of Jet Airways planes, when free.

Just as the airhostess training school has put an old aircraft under its radar, it is also looking to drum its revenues by starting a clutch of franchisee institutes, mostly down South.

AHA is planning two associate academies in Bangalore, one each in Chennai, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram.

It is also planning one franchisee each in Ahmedabad and Goa.

All these schools would need to invest around Rs 1 crore each against an intake of 350-400 students a year.

From the side of wannabe airhostesses, they will need to cough up Rs 1 lakh plus in case of a two-year course for `plus two' students and Rs 70,000 for a one-year course, minimum qualification being a degree.

Clearly, the demand for fresh airhostesses is only going to rise as news airlines such as Air Deccan and King Fisher getting into cruise mode.

And the international skies are also opening up for the Indian academy, with plans being firmed up for forays into Colombo, Dubai, Bangkok and Mauritius.

Perhaps, the fresh initiatives will also see a revised composition of the students who pass out from AHA - 16 per cent air hostesses and 51 per cent in hospitality sector, the rest spread between MNCs and BPOs.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 21, 2005)
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