Tue, 16 Aug 1994

Air India

R. K. Shah, in his comments in The Jakarta Post, Aug. 12, 1994), highlights the shallow thinking of so many. I was briefly resident (2 1/2 years) in Bhutan and therefore forced by Indian Home Office rules to use Air India, Indian Airways and Air India pilots on Druk Air. Let me make it clear that it is normally the customer who selects the airline, not vice versa. If the airlines were able to select their customers, I am sure Thai Airways, for example, would ban some people entirely because of their in- flight behavior.

Where is this mythical Indian Nationalism which should present Air India and Indian Airways with 800,000 potential customers? It is Indian people who are choosing to use another airline for very good reasons.

Poor maintenance, both mechanical and inside the passenger compartment, poor service and dirty conditions in flight, will drive even the most nationalistic passengers to airlines which offer reasonable or excellent service.

The real problem I should think, for Indian travelers, is not how much Lufthansa sends home. The issue is how long any airline will bother to carry plane loads of semi-drunk, betel nut spitting, untidy, rubbish creating, vomiting passengers.

I think the highest level of profit would be well-earned in this particular market.