Air Rage in India

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on November 21, 2007

As millions of Americans embark on the travel nightmare that is the long Thanksgiving weekend, they can take comfort in knowing that people in India are just as fed up with lousy airline service. U.S. travelers are alarmed by the deteriorating situation at airports nationwide. (See this BusinessWeek cover story, “Fear and Loathing at the Airport.”)Millions of Indians are just as fed up. For years, they have endured long delays on Air India, the country’s state-owned international carrier.

Now things have gotten even worse. Just how bad are relations between Air India and its customers? According to this AFP report, irate passengers and Air India staff members came to blows over the weekend: “Several hundred people were delayed at New Delhi’s international airport as six Air India flights were delayed and paramilitary troops called in to control angry passengers.” AFP also quotes an Air India spokesman blaming, of course, the passengers for the New Delhi incident.

Now a London-based blogger has just taken the battle against the airline to the Internet. Vijay Rana has launched an online forum at a website for Indian expats (aka Non-Resident Indians, or NRIs) called nrifm.com. “Five flights grounded for hours, passengers unattended, staff absent, Scuffles at Airport. The CPAII wants to hear your story how Air India has treated you,” the blog’s headline reads.

Rana’s hit a nerve: He launched the forum on Monday and by the next day had already gotten 110 comments, and apparently there are a lot more on the way. “Due to overwhelming response to this blog,” he writes at the top of Tuesday’s page, “it may take some time to publish your comments.”

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Air India rival Jet Airways, the private-sector airline that wins raves from passengers, chose an opportune time to announce its latest step to become India’s top carrier. On Nov. 19, Jet and American Airlines announced plans to begin code-sharing. “Jet Airways is a fast-growing, world-class airline,” said Henry Joyner, senior vice president for planning at American, in a press release. When’s the last time anyone said something like that about Air India?

Reader Comments

nicknguyen

November 22, 2007 1:59 AM

Bruce:

BW is full of China vs. India blogs and is way short of coverage of other Asian countries. It is no just China or India that are enjoying high growth rate. It would be nice if you folks also post some titles for Malaysia, Philippine, Thailand or Vietnam.

Jammer

November 23, 2007 4:15 PM

Nicknguyen,

Why would you want coverage. The Western media is about playing up drama and not the telling the truth. The West writes up many optimistic articles about India contrary to China yet China still marches ahead. Meaning they know nothing about what's going on or intentionally lie for geopolitical purposes. The West just likes to play with others' nationalistic rivalries for their own entertainment. Between India and China... the nation that values Westerners writing "positive" stories about their country and you'll see who's the one seeing the other ahead of them. Valuing what the West says only makes one deluded and keeps attention away from what needs to be done.

HA-HA-HA

November 23, 2007 10:10 PM

It's an old and repetitive story Bruce. The Government controlling sectors widespread corruption, Abject Poverty, Rampant illlitercy, Sub standard infrastructure. There is only one root cause the leadership who have been a huge let down. While Millions of us realize it well and good we are lazy enough not to do anything about it. We will get up every day morning go about our day and spend hours preying god because we know what if you look carefully only God can save this country.

HVA

November 24, 2007 8:13 AM

Bruce Einhorn!
What do you expect from him?

Apart from that, Air India needs to put their act together.

Fredbalf

November 25, 2007 9:19 AM

Nick
We agree with you, which is one reason why I have been added to BusinessWeek's list of esteemed Asia bloggers. If you check our website, Southeast Asia has been garnering more attention recently. We did a feature length story on Vietnam called "The Patient American", a profile of Singapore-based Raffles Education, and a piece on big challenges faced by Indonesia in competing with China. Thanks for your feedback.
Frederik Balfour

Fresh

November 28, 2007 1:35 AM

China certainly can't be marching ahead with more than 10,000 unreported executions and organs from those dead prisoners being transplanted into rich foreigners. It certainly can't be marching ahead with hundreds of miners dying every year and still hundreds more working as slaves in Shanxi. Jammer dude research your countries better....The only technological innovation that has come recently from China is the 'death mobile', a vehicle where death row prisoners can be executed in the vicinity of their homes and their organs transported really fast!

HC

November 28, 2007 3:29 AM

Nick and Frederik, I would have to respectfully disagree with BW's decision including more coverage of countries other than India. It sounds like a great idea normally, but not when the Indian readers are jumping up and down waving for more attention. I noticed that the coverage on India has decreased lately and the Indian readers are starting to attack Chinese more frequently, prompting more verbal retaliation from Chinese readers. All this pent-up anger toward China is caused by Western media like BW not paying enough attention to India. This article didn't even mention China and it already invited an angry trashing of the country by Indians.

While such verbal abuse is annoying, the real concern is the psychological impact on the Indian reader population if BW continues this drought of congradulatory writings on India. I propose that BW increase its India coverage, and focus only on the positive aspects. Feel free to embellish a little when necessary. If possible, try to give the impression that India way ahead of China in every aspect. I believe that will alleviate some of the mental trauma that our Indian friends are so obviously suffering from.

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