THE last time we flew Air India was at least five years ago, from Singapore to Mumbai. Frankly we were dreading it and every one of our fears was met, from the stewardesses wearing identical wigs, looking like middle-aged wardens in women’s prisons, through filthy upholstery and stinky loos to boorish passengers.
We have, of course, like everyone else, been following the airline’s calamitous path through the last couple of years, from disclosure of misuse of power for pelf to vicious in-fighting in the pilots’ unions to the loss of public confidence.
Then on Thursday, for a little while, it looked as if hostilities could be suspended as the Dreamliner came through a leaden monsoon sky, parted the salute of the water cannons and touched down. The air was festive, the atmosphere euphoric and we got a glimpse of what the institution must have been like in the brave, old days when it was a Tata airline and everyone who flew on it was treated like a prince.
Not one of Praful’s Patel’s maharajahs, or one of Vijay Mallya’s cherished guests, mind you, but like royalty.
Everyone had a smile on their faces, there was some cheering and suddenly, we dared to hope in the future of Air India again. And then yesterday came the news that the Union government had finally announced FRI in retail, in broadcasting, in power exchange – and aviation.
Which means even more hope for the future!