These days, everywhere you look there are billboards promoting flying schools.
Frankfinn Institute of Air Hostess Training, one of the oldest players in the game, has nearly doubled its advertising budget to Rs15-20 crore. Newcomer Kingfisher Training Academy (KTA) is interesting because it’s going all out to make a career in flying seem attractive again.
Veterans such as Sheila Joshi, a flight attendant who was suspended by Indian Airlines until she sheds a few kilos, have triggered some debate on whether our airlines are trying too hard to be hip.
Of course, I’m the first to agree that the same rules should be applied to male and female employees, but let’s not dismiss the trendier competition. To quote one irate columnist: “Haven’t our national carriers been persuaded that buxom, middle-aged, sari-clad women simply can’t compete with the leggy, skinny, short-skirted babes that the private airlines are swarming with.”
C’mon, we’ve suffered the grim grannies long enough.
I, for one, would rather fly on a plane where a smiling attendant can get me a copy of Lounge in under three minutes and with a company that’s actually interested in my feedback. Most people I know, if given a choice, would pick Kingfisher or Jet over Indian Airlines (except perhaps the husband—he loves the aerobridges and the assorted other technical preferences that are given to Indian Airlines flights at our airports).
It’s quite ridiculous to compare an airline aisle to a catwalk, just because you’ve finally seen a few well-groomed women walking down the first. And it’s perfectly normal that flight training schools are trying hard to get young people interested in flying again.
After all, most young people know that if they pick the service sector in India, they will have to tackle the badly-behaved Indian consumer. Just recently, I witnessed one horribly rude businessman bully a polite flight attendant who asked him to switch off his cellphone. So, if smart graduates want to work for our airlines, I would say they are brave and that we should encourage them.
For our cover story this week (Page 12) we made several visits to KTA, which recently opened its first branch in the Mumbai suburb of Andheri—that hub of television studios, acting schools and malls. There are now seven flight training institutes in that area.
Of course, as one expert points out, some of these schools are just trying to make a fast buck. But enough discussion, read the story.
PS: International critics may have dismissed the latest Harry Potter film. But you only have to watch it with my nine-year-old niece, Tara, to know why it’s going to be a hit. Her one line review: “It’s the first Harry Potter where you get an experience of real danger.”
Haven’t read that one anywhere.
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