Air India is working with Boeing and strengthening its ground operations to improve the reliability of its long-haul flights and better customer service, a senior airline official told businessline.

The Tata-Group owned airline is also looking to lease new wide-body aircraft to grow its long-haul network. However, sourcing of aircraft has become a huge challenge due to delivery delays and supply chain issues.

These are some of the measures being put in place to improve its service as it faces customer ire and regulatory action.

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Air India is the largest long-haul operator from India, but continues to receive flak because of long delays and poorly-maintained aircraft. The airline has as yet been unable to fix issues related to broken seats and non-functioning inflight entertainment system in its older planes.

“We are working with Boeing on a reliability improvement programme,” the senior official said. Under this programme, Boeing conducts a diagnosis of factors contributing to unreliability and delays, thus helping the airline improve its performance.

Ground operations

Ground operations have been restructured. Previously, it was merged with customer experience department and now a new team focused on ground operations is being put in place. This includes Jairaj Shanmugam as the global head of flight operations. Shanmugam was chief operating officer at the Bengaluru airport before moving to Air India.

The airline's senior management is also reviewing whether standard operating procedures with regard to customer facilitation are being followed in case of flight delays. 

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Additionally, the airline has already announced setting up of an aircraft maintenance facility at Bengaluru in partnership with SIA Engineering Company Ltd. This will include aircraft hangars and associated repair shops and will be ready by 2025-end.

"There is a maintenance deficit we need to overcome," the official explained.

“We are bringing line maintenance (routine daily maintenance of aircraft) component in-house. We are using the licences and skills of the four airlines in Tata Group. Each of them is licensed to do certain type of maintenance on certain type of aircraft and we are consolidating the skills to do the maintenance under our own oversight,” he added.