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From record jet orders, growing its international network to recruiting new people onboard and modernizing its digital systems landscape — Air India’s transformation story is well on track to make the Maharaja more relevant than ever.

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Having revised the salary structure for flying staff in April, Tata Group-owned Air India has now initiated a revamp of employment contracts and compensation for its non-flying workforce in India.

“The new grades and designations have been arrived at after a comprehensive formal job evaluation to assess the size and complexity of each role, which have then been benchmarked against external companies so that the grade and associated compensation is aligned with market standards,” said the airline’s CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson.

Additionally, Air India is introducing a performance-linked variable pay component that will be directly linked to both the company’s and each individual’s performance in a financial year, he told employees. 

The airline will also provide annual increments for employees who joined post-privatization on or before December 31. The Tata Group took control of the airline in January 2022 under a government-led strategic divestment program. For employees who joined before privatization, the airline has introduced a cost to company compensation structure with fixed pay and performance linked bonus.

The company further said employees who have not been assigned any role in the new organization structure and those who have applied for voluntary retirement will not receive the revised contract.

Additionally, Air India is hiring 550 cabin crew members and 50 pilots every month and also expects to have six wide-body A350 planes in its fleet by the end of this year. 

Nepal Welcomed 168,000 Indians Between January and June

Nearly 168,000 Indian tourists visited Nepal by air during the first six months of the year, up from 97,313 visitors during the same period last year, according to the Nepal Tourism Board. In May, the Himalayan nation received a total of 153,602 foreign visitors out of which 36,575 were Indians.

The number of Indian tourists visiting Nepal in June was encouraging as Nepal started recovering from the pandemic, said Sharmila Kafle, managing director of Kathmandu-based Apoorva Tours and Travel. “In the past, Indians mainly used to visit Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu but now they also visit Janakpur, Lumbini, Muktinath, Pokhara and Chitwan,” she said.

Early in April, India and Nepal agreed to sign up for cross-border digital payments, which would allow Indian tourists to use e-wallets. 

British Airways Mulls Expansion in Delhi and Mumbai

British Airways is looking to increase flights to Delhi and Mumbai and has increased its weekly flights to 56 compared to the pre-pandemic level, said the airline’s Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle. Earlier, the carrier operated 49 weekly flights. Out of the total, it operates 14 weekly flights to Delhi and 21 weekly flights to Mumbai.

“Mumbai and Delhi are subject to bilateral air service agreement. As demand grows, economy develops, it is very important that air services keep pace with that,” Doyle said. The existing bilateral flying rights between India and the UK for Delhi and Mumbai is fully utilized. The two countries have a liberal air service agreement.

Beyond aviation, India is also playing a key role for the airline’s backend. As part of its investment strategy, British Airways has opened its second call center in the north Indian city of Gurugram, the biggest site globally with 1,400 agents.

Indian Hotels Company Debuts in Jammu

Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) has opened its first hotel in Jammu in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. “The 90-key Vivanta Jammu, City Centre offers views of the Himalayas and extends our itinerary in the union territory with our existing hotels in Srinagar and Katra,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of IHCL.

With this addition, IHCL will have five hotels in the territory including one under development. Just last week, the company signed a management contract with realty developer Ambuja Neotia Group for a 155-room Taj Ganga Kutir Resort & Spa in Raichak in the eastern state of West Bengal. The company plans to reach a portfolio of 300 hotels by 2025.

Fly IndiGo to Abu Dhabi From Lucknow and Ahmedabad

Budget carrier IndiGo has announced new connections to Abu Dhabi from Lucknow and Ahmedabad, effective July 12 and August 11 respectively. The launch of new flights comes amid the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi’s recent announcement of its plan to attract 24 million visitors by 2023, the airline said in a statement. IndiGo already operates flights to Abu Dhabi from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi and Hyderabad. 

The airline also announced daily direct flights connecting Mumbai and Jakarta, effective from August 7 as well as Mumbai-Nairobi daily direct from August 5. Last month, IndiGo announced a record 500-aircraft deal with European planemaker Airbus, eclipsing Tata Group-owned Air India’s combined purchase of 470 jets earlier this year.

The Fern Hotels & Resorts Expands Presence in Rajasthan

India-based environmentally sensitive hotel chain The Fern Hotels & Resorts has launched a 24-room Koolwal Kothi Zinc Journey by The Fern, Nawalgarh. This is the company’s 12th hotel in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Last week, the company announced the rebranded launch of its 55-room luxury resort, Blue Ocean The Fern Resort & Spa at Ganpatipule in Ratnagiri in the western state of Maharashtra. 

The hotel chain has said it would be adding 1,000 more rooms spanning 13 hotels this fiscal, most of which will come up in the east and northeastern markets. It has already added seven hotels this year, taking the total number of properties to 100 in 85 cities, mostly in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Aviation Regulator Steps Up Vigil Against Illegal Entry in Cockpit

Aviation safety watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued an advisory to airlines to sensitize pilots and cabin crew to prevent incidents of unauthorized entry of people into the cockpit, following two recent instances aboard Tata Group-owned Air India.

“Unauthorized presence in the cockpit is likely to distract the attention of cockpit crew from their sensitive functions and can lead to errors which may jeopardize the safety of the aircraft operations,” read the advisory.

Last month, the regulator suspended an Air India pilot for a year and his co-pilot for a month after he permitted a female friend who is an Indian Air Force pilot to travel in the cockpit on a Chandigarh-Leh flight. In February, Air India pilots operating a Dubai-Delhi flight invited a friend, who was also an airline staffer traveling on duty, into the cockpit.

Lemon Tree Hotels Signs New Property in Tirupati and Opens One in Manali

India’s mid-market hotel chain Lemon Tree Hotels has signed a 120-key Lemon Tree Premier, Tirupati in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Additionally, the company has launched its latest franchised property Lemon Tree Hotel, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, featuring 34 rooms. 

Carnation Hotels, a subsidiary and management arm of Lemon Tree Hotels, will manage the Tirupati property which is set to be operational by the fourth quarter of financial year 2026. “Tirupati attracts a lot of pilgrims every year and we want to offer the best in the segment option to cater to all those planning to visit this heritage city,” said Mahesh Aiyer, CEO of Carnation Hotels. 

Last month, Lemon Tree Hotels marked its debut in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra and Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal with a new property in each city. 

MakeMyTrip Launches New Feature to Look For Most Economical Airfares

Online travel company MakeMyTrip has launched a new feature ‘Incredible India Incredible Prices’, offering results based on the most economical airfare to multiple destinations within India from the origin city over a six-month period. Users can filter the most economical flight according to the month of travel and theme-based travel categories such as adventure, religious, wildlife, beach, etc. The feature also highlights the top things to do in each destination, the company said in a release.

“The new feature has been developed from a user lens and attempts to fuel interest in the hidden gems of India by offering results based on price, timeline and the theme of travel. The early results are encouraging as we have observed 2.5 times increases in searches for leisure destinations on the Incredible India funnel as compared to the regular flight funnel,” said Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group CEO at MakeMyTrip.

Goa, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan have emerged as the platform’s most popular domestic destinations.

Pride Hotels Group Signs a Pride Resort in Rajkot

Indian hospitality brand Pride Hotels Group has signed Pride Hotel Rajkot in the western state of Gujarat, scheduled to be operational from October. The group operates and manages a chain of hotels under the brands Pride Plaza Hotel, Pride Hotel, Pride Resort, Pride Biznotel and Pride Suites. As part of its expansion plans, Pride Hotels will have 100 properties and over 10,000 keys by the end of 2030 across the country. 

Hoping to cash in on business travelers, the company is scaling its operations to focus more on its Pride Biznotel brand, a mid-market hotels segment primarily spread across tier 1 and tier 2 markets. 


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Tags: abu dhabi, air india, british airways, dgca, india, Indian Hotels Company, indigo, makemytrip, nepal, pilots, skift india report

Photo credit: Air India is hiring 550 cabin crew members and 50 pilots every month. Aiel / Air India Boeing B787-8 Dreamliner VT-ANB Mumbai

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