Home / Companies / News /  Facing complaints, Air India to revamp customer service

Concerned by a spate of passenger complaints, Tata Group-operated Air India Ltd plans to overhaul its customer service by making its employees go through behavioural and in-flight training programmes, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

“Tata Group is concerned with the high number of complaints and have formed teams to look into the matter. The crew and staff will go through multiple training sessions to improve the customer experience," said a senior industry executive, one of the people mentioned above, who didn’t want to be named.

“Seniors in the company are looking into the matter. Passage training programmes are also being discussed," the person said.

Air India was only behind FlyBig, among scheduled commercial airlines, in the number of passenger complaints registered during April, according to the latest data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). FlyBig registered 2.5 complaints per 10,000 passengers, while for Air India it was at 2.4. In comparison, airlines such as IndiGo and Vistara received 0.1 complaints per 10,000 passengers during the month.

The complaints included issues with customer service, staff behaviour, refunds, and problems related to flight, baggage and fares.

Many passengers have also vented their frustration at Air India on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

On 14 June, DGCA slapped Air India with a 10 lakh fine for failing to compensate passengers who were refused boarding despite having valid flight tickets and reaching ahead of the scheduled time.

A large number of customer service issues are because of the culture that developed at Air India under decades of government ownership, which the Tata Group is hoping to address through training programmes, said the second person mentioned above, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. “There will be enhanced training to sort out the issues. However, it’s likely to take time to achieve the desired change," the person said.

Tata Group and Air India did not respond to Mint’s queries.

A senior pilot with the airline told Mint that while customer-facing employees at Air India are required to attend enhanced training on customer care, others such as pilots haven’t been informed about taking part in such activities yet.

Air India is one of four airline brands operated by Tata Group, which holds majority stakes in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd, apart from Air India Express, a no-frill subsidiary of Air India Ltd.

In February, the salt to software conglomerate had rolled out a 100-day plan for Air India to improve operational and service standards.

Sprucing up customer service was one of the key improvement areas chalked out by the Tata Group. However, its efforts do not seem to have produced much results.

Tata Group hopes to make Air India a financially viable and a flagship brand of the conglomerate, the group’s chairman N. Chandrasekaran told a leading business daily recently. There would be visible progress in 12-24 months in all aspects of the airline, he had said.

Tata Group is resolving problems at Air India and is working on reorganizing the airline in terms of talent, training, deployment, fleet and ground handling through data analytics, Chandrasekaran had said.



Devina Sengupta

Devina Sengupta reports on the shifts in India Inc’s workplaces, HR policies and writes about the developments at India’s biggest conglomerates. Her stories over the last decade have been picked up and followed by Indian and international news outlets. She joined Mint in 2022 and previously worked with The Economic Times and DNA-Money.
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