A tail parade of each of Air India's Boeing aircraft as in 2011. The 747-400, 777-300ER, 777-200LR and 737-800.
A tail parade of each of Air India's Boeing aircraft as in 2011. The 747-400, 777-300ER, 777-200LR and 737-800.

Air India refutes TimesNow TV report on Air India Day extravaganza

In an unusual move for the national carrier, Air India issued a strongly worded statement refuting a media report by TimesNow TV on the airline’s recent Air India Day celebrations calling it “baseless” and “devoid of truth”.

In a segment titled “What was Air India celebrating?” aired late last week, the television channel claimed [bsu_quote cite=”TimesNow TV report” url=”http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CFoQIDAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebcache.googleusercontent.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dcache%3Ay5VkuKA84n8J%3Awww.timesnow.tv%2FWhat-was-Air-India-celebrating%2Fvideoshow%2F4463051.cms%2B%26cd%3D8%26hl%3Den%26ct%3Dclnk%26gl%3Din%26client%3Dfirefox-a&ei=LBoEVPWzLJKfugTvoIHQAg&usg=AFQjCNHUC_YOQubD7kS9gxqj6ke_SHrm4g&bvm=bv.74115972,d.c2E”]While the country’s premier airline hurtles from losses to losses, notching up negative reviews, those in the know are busy celebrating. The completely senseless display was for Air India day when the top officials from across the country were called to Delhi, and a multi-crore function rolled out. The big question is — what are they celebrating for? Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju defending he massive celebrations and the huge expenditure despite the losses says, “We must not dwell on the past but be optimistic and move on.” Check out the report on how the bleeding Air India splurged at taxpayers’ expense.[/bsu_quote]The channel claimed a figure of Rs one crore (Rs 10 million or about $160,000) was spent on the extravaganza, at a time the carrier was being funded by a Rs 30,000 crore ($ six billion) tax-payer funded bailout.

Air India issued a strong statement saying

A canard is being spread by a section of press media about splurging crores of rupees on organising a function recently to coincide with the Air India Day. The reporting is totally baseless, mischievous and devoid of truth. It is reiterated that Air India is fully aware of its responsibilities towards the judicious use of tax payer’s money and we are always committed to serve the nation to the best of our capabilities. It is to uphold the tradition of Air India to rise to the occasion whenever the nation demands even putting at risk the lives of our brave staffs including pilots, cabin crews, engineers and ground staffs that after so many years Air India decided to organise Air India day on 27th August, 2014. The function was intended to felicitate our brave employees who have shown exemplary courage and devotion to the duty while going on rescue operations to bring back hundreds of our countrymen from the conflict zone in Iraq and Libya. Also AI wanted to honour our courageous pilots who have efficiently negotiated emergency landing while the aircraft was on fire. All this was intended to instill a sense of pride and confidence in our workforce who are slowly coming out of low morale over the period of difficult days in the company. It was perfectly timed to celebrate our entry into Star Alliance ushering an era of improved product of AI on a global platform. We also felicitated our business partners for their continued support in our difficult period.

While AI is trying to regain its past glory with hard earned successes in the recent time, there is a concerted effort on the part of a section of media to derail and demoralise our promise to success. This section is showing undue harshness and resorting to biased, concocted, baseless and demeaning reporting in recent days to malign our reputations particularly when AI is showing definite promise. A canard has been spread by a section of vested media that crores were spent on the function, whereas the fact is that the total expenditure on the occasion was just around Rs.10 lacs. All participants in the cultural function were talents of employees of the company only. No outside artist was associated with the program. All outstation employees participated in the function were accommodated in the hotel owned by AI subsidiary. AI deplores and condemns biased media reporting particularly when it is farthest from the truth. AI is also exploring to take up the issue to appropriate forum.

What do you think of this new response strategy of the airline? Share your thoughts via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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  1. Sad to see Times Now stooping so low.

  2. You will see more of this as AI offers pink slips to AWOLs. They all have news channels on speed dial and insider information.