Airline of India

SWEET 17!

Our airline just turned 17!!

Most trusted airline

On the occasion of our 17th anniversary, we would like to thank everyone who stood by us all these years!

Looking back, it feels amazing to see how far we have come. Being India’s first international budget airline, we connect many smaller Indian towns directly to the Gulf and South-East Asia regions, with a fleet of 24 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and we are the market leader in the LCC segment to the Gulf/Middle East region.

Our focus always revolves around key pillars of providing quality, comfort, and convenience to our guests. Just four months into this year, the Airline won the coveted ‘Covid-19 Business Continuity award’ at Wings India 2022 and has been named one of the ‘Best Organizations for Women 2022’ by the Economic Times for a second time.

With your continued patronage, we will keep going forward & serve our guests better!

BEST ORGANISATIONS FOR WOMEN 2022

Best organisation for women for a second straight year

India's best airline

Air India Express has been adjudged one of the ‘Best Organisations for Women’ for a second consecutive year by the Economic Times. Dedicating this achievement to all our women employees.

THE RIGHT ATTITUDE COUNTS!

Air India Express
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Inspiring Women Of
Air India Express

On the occasion of Air India Express being named the ‘Best Organization for Women’ by The Economic Times for the second year in a row, we presented inspiring stories of two of our senior cabin crew members!

MAKE WAY FOR THE STARS

Hats off to the best performing crew and the team who achieved the highest inflight sales in the ‘Buy on Board’ category in April 2022.

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Ms. MEERA MATHEW

15562 TRV Base

PERFORMERS OF THE MONTH

Sl. NoName of the EmployeeEmployee CodeBase
1Mr.Sheth Viral                                    16022   COK Base
2Ms. Meghana VishwasRao        15928  BOM Base
3Mr.Mohit Kumar                                    15909  MAA Base
4Mr.Pulkit Morya                                     16089 TRZ Base
5Mr.Deepu Chandran                         15886 CNN Base      
6Mr.Neel Kanungo                              15583  DEL Base
7Mr.Salman Faris                                  15776 CCJ Base
8Mr.Baburaj M                                     15426    IXE Base

STAR TEAM OF THE MONTH

FLIGHT: IX- 137/412
AMRITSAR-SHARJAH-KOCHI
8th APRIL 2022

L1 SURYA SUDHAN – 15321
R1 SANGEETH KRISHNA – 15709
L2 SRUTHY SATHYAN -15632
R2 SANTHOSH RIYANKA -16007

EMPLOYEE'S EXPRESSION

Stunning Window Views Captured!

Some clicks by Mr. Shihasil Suhas, Cabin Crew

Express your creative side and win exciting prizes!!

Send us shareable pics, paintings, articles, poems, short stories etc. which could be featured in this column to socialmedia@airindiaexpress.in. You can also send creative works/articles by your family members.

CAPTAIN’S COLUMN

TWO RIVER SUTRA

This is a story that connects two rivers, not via geography, but by pure circumstance. It is neither an official account of ‘Operation Ganga’, nor an attempt to comfort your unsung-self about glories not bestowed and commemoration medals not pinned on your shoulders. Then, you may be asking; What is it about?… Well, let’s start at the beginning (which is generally a good place to start anything).

This is the story of a Hangry pilot flying to Hungary to rescue the Hapless and the Helpless and how Hopeless the story came out on social media. What should make news in this world never does, and, the opposite is also equally true. In reality, ‘Operation Ganga’ was just a regular mission to get back Indian students who had found themselves suddenly trapped in a country where they did not belong; in a war in which they had no sides to take. What they had thought was their gateway to a better life, turned into a trap of their own making. Medical students stuck in the midst of a Geo-political war; it was an out-of-syllabus situation for them.

The fact that you were tasked to fly one of the flights was a matter of quiet personal pride. Afterall, you were an expert at repatriation missions. Having actively participated in planning and executing a similar (unpaid and unrecognized) one for the last two years that rendered you penniless and nearly took your life, ‘Operation Vande Bharat’ had been more dangerous that even fighting the Kargil War. It had broken you on all fronts; empirically, ethically, morally, financially, professionally, socially, physically, medically, historically; basically, on all fronts. You only wished and hoped that ‘Operation Ganga’ would not get you similar rewards, like a 40% salary cut, a life-threatening infection, an empty bank account, fear, anger, hunger.  

So, one late Sunday night, the decree was received that the political skirmish between Russia and Ukraine had fast-tracked into a full-blown war and Indian students had to be rescued immediately (many against their wishes, you would only find out later). Consequently, repatriation flights had to be planned by first-light to Bucharest, and Budapest, and Warsaw, and Kiev and Debrecen and some other unknown and unpronounceable places. That was the simple plan. It made you reach out immediately for Google Maps. European Geography had never been one of your strong subjects in school. Soon, your Roster (Roaster!) proclaimed that you were to operate an evacuation flight from Budapest to Mumbai. Your association with Budapest had a sliver of memory attached to it from the days of yore. This was not the first time you would be in Budapest. Many decades back, a vacation brought you here, when you were still carefree and young and smiling. Now, you would return for a mission, harassed and old and frowning. You were not sure whether as the years rolled on, life had made you any bolder or wiser. One look in the mirror told you that it had definitely made you balder, not bolder and also wider, not wiser.

Budapest was a twin city – with the ‘Buda’ Hills in the West and the ‘Pest’ Plains in the East; like Yin and Yang; like Yak and Yeti back in Doon; like Thompson and Thompson in the comics; like Alpha and Omega; like This and That; in short, like Beginning and End. It was also a city divided geographically, bifurcated by the winding Danube. On your first visit, Budapest had seemed magical to your young impressionable mind. It was not only the capital of Hungary, it was a city made of dreams: the East’s exuberant vision of the West, the West’s uneasy hallucination of the East. It was a dreamed-up city; a city almost completely faked; a city invented out of other cities, out of Paris by way of Vienna – the imitation of an imitation. You remembered leisurely strolling the cobbled streets, along the magnificent chain bridge over the Danube that connected the two sides, breathing in the senses and smells of Geography and History, walking past the Pubs and Museums and road-side musicians and hookers and painters. It was a Buda-full city, split by a brooding river that had been witness to much bloodshed and violence and carnage and sacrifice and wars and revolutions and uprisings through the ages; and was still called the Blue Danube. But on this present visit, there was no time for a leisure stroll. This time it wasn’t about the Danube, your revisit was the calling of the Ganga, that had been witness to a civilization that preceded time; mightier and most revered river of all history. You were the thread that would connect the two. Also, this time, you were on a mission, in uniform; not on foot but in an aircraft; not as a tourist on a leisure holiday, but on a tight mission that would push the aircraft to the limits of its endurance and you to the limits of fatigue. There would be no Bars to visit this time, no time to inhale the years gone by since your last visit, but replaced by the heady smell of Aviation Turbine Fuel and burning rubber on a freezing tarmac.

The aim of the mission was to just Keep-it-Simple-Stupid. Normally, big words like Patriotism and Nationalism are the last things on your mind in such times. Same-Tame Kargil Déjà vu! The mission did not even take you into Ukraine, and the adrenaline junkie hiding inside you thoroughly missed putting the Boeing-737 through some ‘Beyond-the-FCTM*-Anti-Aircraft-Missile-Maneuvers’. No such luck. It was just routine, like any other day, except for the route that took you across strange lands an intrepid traveler would love to explore. From India, across the Arabian Sea, into the Persian Gulf, to Kuwait (Refueling Halt) and then through Iran, into Armenia and Turkey, along the Southern coast of the Black Sea, and then to Bulgaria, Romania and finally into Hungary. What would have taken about 12 months a few hundred years back on a barge to get to Kuwait and then on horseback to Budapest, took you about 12 hours of flying at three-fourths of the Speed of Sound.

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On D-Day; The flight was delayed; The hotel pick-up time had been advanced by the local Station Manager without any information to you or the Hotel Laundry; Obviously, the laundry was late; There was no allowance to pay for the Food Bill or tip the Hotel Staff; They gave you their dirty looks under their fake smiles; The cab driver was angry for making him wait; The Cabin Crew were angrier as their make-up was running in the hot sun; At the airport, the man at the counter spoke a language you could not understand; On push back, the Commercial asked whether the delay should not be put on him, but on Putin; The air-conditioning in the Cockpit wasn’t working; There were only 20 other MELs*, their ugly stickers jostling for space on the MIP*; The Crew Catering meals had been uplifted from an Indian station 72 hours back and frozen in Dry Ice; The Roast Eggs had turned into Grilled Chickens in the heat. (Did you again hear ‘Roasted Rooster’ somewhere?) As you had imagined, it was just a routine day in your life and apart from the Route, Geography and the Freezing Rain in Budapest, a totally unremarkable flight.

18 hours later, at the end of a very long cold day, back in the Hotel, while you were basking in delusional self-grandeur of mission accomplishment, you mused that it would have been an extraordinary voyage for the students who could make it safely across the war-torn Ukrainian border and then to the safety of their country. From the banks of the freezing Danube to the banks of the warm Ganga in a matter of hours, from Budapest, the city made of Dreams, to Mumbai, the Maximum City. it would not be something they would forget in a hurry, and how you were a small part of their story, you wondered philosophically. And how incorrect you were!

The war continued and lives were ravaged and uncertainty loomed all over the world, destroying plans and dreams and futures, but thankfully, the Indian students were back home, to possible more uncertain plans and dreams and futures. As soon as the aircraft doors opened in Amchi-Mumbai, while the cabin crew stood with folded handed hands and their best smiles despite their weary legs, the students ran out, without even an acknowledgement, a return smile or a Thank You. That was that.

As a wise man once said, ‘In a mad world, only the mad are sane’

Capt Vikas Nautiyal
Dy Chief Pilot Operations
Air India Express limited
Ph: +91-8800361444

Epilogue:-

Air India Express evacuated more than 1650 students from countries bordering the Ukraine War Zone in 9 evacuation flights over a 10-day period under ‘Operation Ganga’ in Mar 2022. The author was fortunate to operate one such pattern.

* FCTM – Flight Crew Training Manual

* MEL – Minimum Equipment List

* MIP – Main Instrument Panel

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“Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Air India Express.”

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