Says Melwin D'Silva, Regional Manager of Air India for Gulf, Middle East and Africa, in an exclusive video interview with Travelweb. His passion for the Indian national carrier is infectious at times when he says “Our main motto is to serve the people of India in whichever way we can.”
When asked about the myriad factors that make Air India stand out from the other regional carriers D’Silva says, “We have joined hands with Star alliance, the world's largest global airline alliance, in 2014. Moreover, we have already started flying dreamliners to Dubai. For the future we are planning to increase capacity and consolidate the existing sectors in this region.
“The market dynamics of Middle East have undergone drastic changes over the years. Many more players have entered the market in the last few years. However, Air India, which has both full service as well as low cost carriers (Air India Express), is operating around 300 flights between gulf and Indian region in a week. More dreamliners would be coming in to have at least a double service daily to Delhi, Bombay and also a few Southern regions of India.” With the airline’s popularity increasing day by day D’Silva is confident that it has much to look forward to in the Gulf region.
Last year was significant for Air India as they have signed codeshares with many major carriers in the world as part of their association with Star Alliance. The association not only increased the airline’s popularity but also boosted its reach across the globe.
When it comes to giving a helping hand to those who are in need, Air India is always there in the forefront whether it is evacuating citizens from warzones or repatriating bodies from disaster-ridden areas. Their recent toils in Yemen and Nepal were well appreciated when they promptly took the situations in their hand and dealt with them gallantly.
“We are always ready whenever our fellow brothers or sisters need us. In the case of Yemen, we were flying to a warzone with an oral assurance from the government that during this three hours envelope no untoward event would happen to us. A civilian aircraft goes into the warzone picks up not only Indians but also citizens of 29 nations and brings them back, isn’t that a feat to be proud of? Around 50 per cent of 6,400 people who were evacuated were brought in by the Air India flights. So service is in our blood. Whenever India needs us we are there,” D’Silva says confidently.
According to D’Silva even though the capacity of the airline remains the same, they were able to manage a 10 per cent increase in their revenue from the gulf region.
“The profit was gained from a mix of various initiatives taken by the airline in the region. We have raised funds, gave six freedom fares, done some short term promotions, and reacted to the situation aptly. These have helped us in achieving our goals,” says D’Silva.
After joining hands with Star Alliance, Air India’s Frequent Flier Programme (FFP) has become big with points to be earned and burned across 29 airlines. The points can be redeemed from the 29 airlines associated with the Star Alliance. “Our mileage ratio is much better and bigger than other FFPs. It gives passengers many benefits including free baggage allowance and food,” D’Silva signs off.
Zulekha Healthcare Group has partnered with Air Arabia as its preferred medical tourism partner for its India-based hospital, Alexis Multispeciality Hospital. The collaboration was marked with the launch of an exclusive healthcare kiosk for medical tourists at Zulekha Hospital Sharjah in the presence of Founder and Chairperson, Dr. Zulekha Daud, Managing Director, Taher Shams and Co-chairperson Zanubia Shams from Zulekha Healthcare Group and Shalini Rajan, Head of Sales, Air Arabia in Sharjah, UAE.
The medical tourism team in both Zulekha Hospital and Alexis Multispeciality Hospital will work together to support the needs of the patients making it convenient for individuals seeking affordable medical treatment with world-class standards and latest medical treatments, all under one roof.
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