Exclusive: “He And Maybe She” – Air India CEO’s Big Hint On Mascot
The Air India’s iconic Maharajah mascot is here to stay, but he may soon find a partner, CEO Campbell Wilson hinted today.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Mr Wilson said Air India aircraft are set for a design makeover. However, he said, the new look will not be a break from the airline’s rich legacy. “Air India has 90 years of heritage. We want to carry elements of that forward. “Equally, we need to look at the future. And we do need to demonstrate that we are not just rooted in the past, that we are also aspiring towards something in the future,” he said.
In redesigning the airline, views of the Vistara team will also be respected, he said. “They have built a very good airline over the past eight years. And so I think there’s more than 5,000 people there that have an interest in how the new airline is represented. So I think this is really an opportunity to think freshly, while respecting.”
Vistara airlines is set for a merger with the Tata-owned Air India by March 2024.
Asked if the mustachioed and turbaned Maharajah still will find a place in Air India’s grand revamp, Mr Wilson said, “The Maharajah will certainly be part of our plans in the new look. He and may be a she will be part of the plans.”
On the airline’s plans for designing the Airbus 350 aircraft it is set to induct under a historic deal, CEO Wilson replied, “Wait and see.”
Earlier this month, the Air India, which was recently taken over the by Tata, announced multi-billion dollar deals with France’s Airbus and American plane-maker Boeing to buy 470 passenger aircraft. The deals are the largest shopping event in commercial aviation history.
Speaking about the deals, Mr Wilson said they are the “most complex ever”. He said there are “difficult points in the negotiation process”, but added that the talks are proceeding in “good spirit”.
The Air India CEO also spoke about the infamous Pee-Gate incident, in which a drunk passenger urinated on an elderly woman in the business class of a New York-Delhi Air India flight on November 26.
Mr Wilson said airline crew often suffer physical and verbal abuse on duty. “Not a day goes by without us receiving reports about passenger behaviour. There is a degradation of passenger behaviour onboard aircraft and a standard of decorum is required,” he said.