From TCS to Taj: Several Tata Group companies helping revive Air India

NEW DELHI: In cult classic Amar Akbar Anthony, a mother’s life was saved thanks to simultaneous blood transfusion from her three long-lost sons. While that kind of transfusion is perhaps medically impossible, the real life snatched-and-reunited story of Tatas getting back Air India is witnessing something similar with several group companies getting together to revive their beloved Maharaja.
Taj Hotels’ flight catering arm TajSATS has from Day One of AI’s homecoming this January been delivering improved onboard meals, though to be fair the food was good even in the state-owned decades.
AI MD & CEO Campbell Wilson has now detailed the role being played by other Tata companies in what is seen as the most challenging attempted airline turnaround of contemporary times.
“TajSATS is assisting very much in catering here. For crew accommodation, (there is) Indian Hotels Company Ltd (Taj). Tata Technologies has been helping design some of the obsolete or out of stock aircraft seat components or other components in aircraft (by) doing 3D design and manufacturing from scratch so that we can accelerate repair of seats,” Wilson (52), an aviation veteran from Tatas’s long-trusted airline partner Singapore Airlines (SIA), said.
Broken, torn or not fully functional business seats are the bane of AI’s passengers, especially on the wide bodies used for medium to ultra-long hauls. And it is not easy to find their spare parts, which makes 3D manufacturing of the same critical.
“We have found it difficult in some cases to get some components because the seat product is quite old and in some cases no longer in production. Then you throw in the supply chain constraints that every industry is facing… The design of many of these components is not as robust as today’s seats. So we can fix a seat today and in a month’s time, same problem may recur. That we are building a supply of spares to keep repairing things that continue to break,” Wilson said.
Tata Group flagship TCS is a “significant contributor” to the IT rebuild of AI’s backbone. A team from Tata Business Excellence, comprising of representatives from most group companies that do business analysis to lift the performance of each company, has been at AI “helping us identify where opportunities for improvement and efficiency are.”
AI is getting expertise of each group company depending on the strength of the latter. For example, procurement policies are being adopted from Tata Motors and Tata Steel to make a template for getting aircraft spares and other practices.
“There is a huge amount of sharing within and across the Tata Group both in terms of intellectual property and business practices,” he said.
The four Tata airlines — AI, AI Express, Vistara and AirAsia India — are also having more synergy with each other.
Vistara is taking pilots on deputation from AirAsia India. These airlines will accept each others’ passengers is case of flight disruptions.

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