Air India Launches Gurukul.AI - an AI Driven Upskilling Platform for Employees

Radhika Bansal

01 Jun 2023

Tata Group-owned Air India has launched a new learning hub for its employees. "Gurukul.AI has been created in sync with Vihaan.AI, the airline's five-year transformation programme, and will transform Air India into an organization that evolves through continuous learning," the airline said in a statement.

Gurukul.AI is designed to create personalized upskilling paths for every employee through an assessment of their job roles, current competencies, and proficiencies. The platform integrates competency frameworks mapped to various roles within the organization and ensures accessibility to relevant modules, the statement added. By leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the platform will help assess the employees’ job roles, current competencies, and proficiencies.

"The introduction of Gurukul.AI exemplifies Air India's dedication to cultivating a futuristic-learning experience, attuned to the unique needs of every single employee. In a rapidly changing world, the speed of upskilling and the availability of world-class learning content through digital innovations is imperative. Through this business-driven strategy, we are resolute in transforming Air India into an authentic learning organization," Suresh Tripathi, Chief Human Resources Officer, at Air India, said.

Air India will launch Gurukul.AI in phases, concurrently integrating emerging technologies and customizing the system to cater to different departmental requirements such as Inflight Services, Ground Services, and Engineering. The platform will also offer advanced, AI-driven solutions for pilot training management in the upcoming phases. With Gurukul.AI, Air India seeks to ensure an enhanced personalised learning experience for all its employees, transitioning to a highly skilled approach to create global capabilities.

What all is on the cards?

By emphasizing relevant skills in the current world and augmenting them with extensive organizational experience and sharper capabilities, Gurukul.AI is set to create a powerful impact that drives success and effectiveness.

  • World-class capabilities: The primary focus of Gurukul.AI is to cultivate state-of-the-art, world-class capabilities within Air India, enhancing employee productivity and skill sets to exemplify global standards. 
  • Bringing learning to the fingertips: With this learning hub, Air India has made a wealth of knowledge readily accessible to its employees. The platform is created to motivate employees to continuously enhance their skills, cultivating a culture of “Own your Growth’ through self-paced upskilling options.
  • Cutting-edge technologies for tailored needs: By leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Gurukul.AI offers a holistic system that evaluates skills and provides hyper-personalized recommendations based on an individual’s unique learning trajectory. Further, emerging technologies within the portal allow employees to view their progress via automated analytics and assist them in performance management. 
  • Diverse tools: The hub offers a comprehensive suite of over 70,000 most advanced learning tools including just-in-time learning modules, micro-learnings, accessible mobile learning resources, and engaging video-based modules, among others, ensuring employees have an array of options to suit their preferences.
  • Interactive elements to engage learners: The inclusion of features such as a leader board integrated into the platform encourages active engagement platform vis-a-vis team learning. In addition, a learning wallet along with opportunities to earn rewards provides a compelling incentive for employees to strengthen their knowledge and skills. 
  • Gamification: Through engaging game-like elements, and hyper-personalization with the system talking to the individuals, employees are motivated to progress, complete milestones, and unlock achievements, creating a sense of accomplishment.

In addition to acquiring new digital systems and engineering services, Air India has also been hard at work building an industry-leading digital workforce. The airline is modernising several departments, including customer engagement, employee empowerment, and operational enhancements, among others, where it has already implemented new technology systems or is nearing deployment completion.

The airline is making efforts to modernise customer-facing processes, such as the in-flight entertainment system, mobile apps, website, and user-friendly customer notifications system. Improvements in its employee-centric departments include modern secure digital workplace tools, employee engagement and self-service portals, mobile devices for pilotscabin crew, and airport operations crew, and learning and development tools.

With Gurukul.AI, Air India seeks to ensure an enhanced personalised learning experience for all its employees, transitioning to a highly skilled approach to create global capabilities. Air India will launch Gurukul.AI in phases, concurrently integrating emerging technologies and customizing the system to cater to different departmental requirements such as Inflight Services, Ground Services, Engineering, etc.

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Singapore Airlines to Offer Complimentary WIFI to All Cabin Classes

Abhishek Nayar

01 Jun 2023

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is well-known for its dedication to providing great service to customers and novel experiences to its passengers. Recognizing the growing importance of in-flight connections, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has opted to revolutionize its Wi-Fi service, setting new industry standards.

The Importance of Wi-Fi for Airline Passengers

Staying connected when traveling has become a necessity rather than a luxury in today's hyperconnected society. Passengers anticipate consistent and fast Wi-Fi connectivity throughout their flight. The provision of Wi-Fi on board is critical to boosting the whole travel experience, whether for business, entertainment, or staying connected with loved ones.

SIA's New Wi-Fi Service

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has announced a game-changing upgrade to its in-flight services. Beginning July 1, 2023, SIA customers will have access to the most extensive and unlimited free Wi-Fi network in the airline industry. This new service will be available to all passengers in all cabin classes, including Premium Economy and Economy. SIA intends to provide a seamless connectivity experience, virtually covering the entire aircraft fleet and nearly the entire global route network with this service. Customers must submit their KrisFlyer membership credentials at the time of booking, either through the Manage Booking online option or at check-in, in order to make use of this service. Non-KrisFlyer members may sign up for a free membership online or on board their aircraft via the SIA digital content portal on their personal mobile devices to make use of the complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi.

Customers in Suites, First Class, and Business Class, as well as PPS Club members, will continue to get complimentary unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi. KrisFlyer customers flying in Premium Economy Class and Economy Class have received complimentary three- and two-hour Wi-Fi surf plans since February 2023, respectively. "In today's increasingly hyper-connected world, high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity is one of the most important requirements for our customers," said Mr. Yeoh Phee Teik, Senior Vice President Customer Experience, Singapore Airlines. Giving passengers complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi is merely a further development in SIA's ongoing endeavor to provide an unparalleled end-to-end travel experience. Our customers will be able to stay connected, engaged, and productive even at 36,000 feet in the air thanks to this upgraded service."

Benefits of Enhanced Wi-Fi Service

The addition of unrestricted free Wi-Fi connectivity across all cabin classes provides a slew of advantages for SIA customers. For starters, it allows passengers to stay connected during their travel, allowing them to complete work, browse the internet, or communicate with family and friends. This improved connectedness boosts productivity and overall flight enjoyment. Furthermore, the improved Wi-Fi service guarantees that passengers have a consistent and seamless internet experience regardless of where they are on the aircraft. This removes any potential connectivity concerns and makes the experience more pleasurable and stress-free.

Technological Developments and Constraints

Implementing a complete Wi-Fi service throughout the entire fleet and global route network is fraught with difficulties. To meet the increasing demand for connection, SIA has invested in updating its current infrastructure. This includes the installation of modern equipment and systems capable of handling enormous volumes of data while ensuring quick and reliable connections. To address potential challenges, SIA has collaborated with renowned technology vendors to provide its passengers with a flawless Wi-Fi experience. These partnerships ensure that travelers have constant connectivity and a high-quality browsing experience throughout their journey.

Potential Impact on the Airline Industry

SIA is setting a new industry benchmark for in-flight connection by providing unrestricted free Wi-Fi access across all cabin classes. This decision is expected to put pressure on other airlines to improve their Wi-Fi capabilities and give customers a comparable degree of accessibility. SIA's dedication to customer satisfaction and innovation has established the airline as an industry leader.


Singapore Airlines (SIA) has taken an important step towards improving its passengers' travel experiences. The addition of unrestricted free Wi-Fi access across all cabin classes underlines SIA's commitment to fulfilling its customers' changing demands. This all-encompassing Wi-Fi service, which is essentially available throughout the whole aircraft fleet and global route network, establishes a new standard for the airline sector.

With Inputs from Singapore Airlines

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Air Canada Pilots End Decade Long Framework and Open the Door to Negotiations

Abhishek Nayar

01 Jun 2023

Air Canada pilots have long been worried about the wage disparity between themselves and aviators working for American carriers. They have elected to trigger an escape clause within their existing structure in order to solve this issue and get improved terms and conditions. This ruling opens the door for pilots to engage in negotiating during future "full bargaining" sessions.

Background Information about Air Canada Pilots

Air Canada pilots are an essential aspect of the airline's operations, guaranteeing safe and efficient passenger transportation. However, a considerable wage differential between these pilots and their colleagues at US airlines has raised concerns. The pilots' capacity to negotiate for greater compensation and benefits was constrained by the old structure, which was set to expire next year. The wage disparity has been a source of contention in the aviation industry, with Air Canada pilots expressing a desire to reduce it. The discrepancy not only affects the pilots' financial well-being but also their general job satisfaction and drive. Due to pay disparities with their colleagues in the United States, Air Canada pilots have had difficulty attracting and maintaining talent.

The Escape Clause and Its Implications

The pilots of Air Canada have elected to invoke an escape clause in their present agreement, which was slated to expire next year. This change shifts the expiration date ahead to September 29th, 2023, giving the pilots more time to negotiate a better agreement at the "full bargaining" sessions scheduled for this summer. The pilots' major goal is to close the pay gap between themselves and their higher-paid peers at US airlines, aiming for "historic" improvements. To answer the pilots' concerns, Air Canada incorporated an escape clause within the current structure. The provision permits any party to dissolve the agreement before its intended expiration date, allowing for renegotiation of conditions. By exercising this clause, the pilots indicate their willingness to seek a solution that better fits their expectations and tackles the wage discrepancy. The pilots' choice to exercise the escape clause demonstrates their commitment to bargain on their terms. It acts as a change agent, sparking debate and perhaps paving the road for a more equal deal between Air Canada and its pilots. The timing of this decision, before the scheduled "full bargaining" sessions, maximizes the pilots' bargaining power. Since a 2014 agreement, the estimated 4,500 pilots of Canada's largest airline have earned a 2% compensation raise every year.

Negotiations for a Better Deal

The impending "full bargaining" sessions provide an important chance for pilots to express their concerns and seek improved terms and conditions. The word "full bargaining" refers to extensive discussions in which all areas of the pilot's employment agreement are up for discussion, including salary, benefits, working conditions, and career advancement. Air Canada pilots are pursuing "historic" gains in order to close the wage disparity and obtain a more favorable compensation package. These discussions will be critical in deciding the result and building a framework that answers the pilots' concerns. The pilots' representatives will meet with Air Canada management to seek a mutually agreeable solution. Their colleagues at Onex Corp's WestJet Airlines have tentatively agreed to a 24% hourly raise over four years, as well as additional wages and perks. The union has until Monday to exercise an escape provision that would allow for discussions this year. The agreement is currently valid until September 29, 2023, while its terms will continue to apply after that date. "We were willing to meet with the company if they wanted to provide us with a substantial proposal that would further our membership's goals," the letter stated, adding that Air Canada did not attempt to initiate negotiations.

The Impact on Air Canada and its Pilots

The decision to invoke the escape clause and seek discussions for a better contract presents potential as well as challenges for Air Canada and its pilots. Closing the wage disparity with US airlines will not only raise pilots' financial stability but also their job satisfaction and morale. This, in turn, might have a favorable influence on the airline's operations since motivated and satisfied pilots perform better. However, the discussions are fraught with difficulties, as striking a balance between the pilots' requests and the airline's financial viability is critical. Air Canada, like other airlines, works in a competitive sector where maintaining cost-effectiveness is critical to long-term profitability. To establish a mutually beneficial agreement, all sides will need to communicate openly, compromise, and make smart decisions.


The decision by Air Canada's pilots to invoke the escape clause in their current framework is a critical step towards reaching a more equitable agreement. The pilots seek to achieve "historic" gains by commencing discussions during the impending "full bargaining" sessions, which would narrow the wage disparity with US airlines. The conclusion of these discussions will not only affect the financial well-being of the pilots but will also define the future of Air Canada's operations.

With Inputs from Reuters

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DGCA Introduces Stringent Hill Check Guidelines for Helicopter Pilots Operating in Himalayas

Radhika Bansal

31 May 2023

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has introduced an additional hill check for helicopter pilots operating to helipads at 10,000 ft during the Char Dham yatra from this season onwards, keeping in view the safety of operation in the hilly areas.

In October 2022, six pilgrims and a pilot were killed in a chopper crash near Kedarnath Shrine in Uttarakhand. A senior official informed that under the safety measures, pilots operating in the Himalayan region would get specialised training under the new set of rules introduced by DGCA. After the last year's chopper crash that claimed seven lives and another incident that happened this year where an official of the Uttarakhand government was killed after coming in contact with a tail rotor, DGCA issued safety guidelines to all operators in the hill region.

Ensuring flight safety in hilly areas has been a recurring concern, with the Kedarnath area alone reporting at least nine helicopter crashes between 1990 to 2019. In June 2013, three choppers crashed while conducting rescue operations during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy, killing 23 people, including Indian Air Force personnel. In July 2013, a pilot and a co-pilot of a private chopper were killed as it crashed minutes after taking off from flood-hit Kedarnath. In April 2018, one person was killed and three others injured when an air force cargo helicopter caught fire while landing in Kedarnath.

What are the measures taken?

Unpredictable weather at Kedarnath is a major problem and to tackle this, DGCA has now installed weather cameras at the Kedarnath helipad and at different vantage points en route. These cameras will make sure that a live video feed on actual weather conditions is available and accordingly monitored.

An official told PTI that the feed of these cameras will be available in the operation rooms of helicopter operators and on mobile apps for pilots to help them in the decision-making process. Surveillance cameras have also been installed at these operator helipads. These cameras also can record the footage for a minimum of 14 days. This is also going to help the DGCA in identifying any non-compliance issues.

The DGCA has also activated the Airborne Image Recording System (AIRS) which will be installed in a helicopter that is being operated during the Kedarnath yatra. The official, as quoted by PTI, said that the AIRS records any flying object or instrument by video recording the cockpit and by recording certain parameters using GPS. “The mandatory activation of this system (only in those helicopters equipped with this system) allows the benefit of post-flight analysis of the flight parameters ensuring compliance to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by pilots,” the official said.

Kedarnath Yatra in 2023

The Kedarnath Yatra this year began on April 25. The official informed that around 4,200 shuttle flights carrying about 23,000 passengers were operated from April 25 to May 19. Meanwhile, on April 23, a Uttarakhand government official was on his way to inspect the Kedarnath helipad in a helicopter, which met with an accident. The official was wounded in the incident. It is safe to say that these measures were much needed and have been put in place at the right time to ensure air travel for pilots and pilgrims.

Char Dham Yatra is one of the most popular pilgrimages attracting a large number of devotees from various parts of India. Kedarnath is one of these places. All four shrines are at high altitudes where extreme weather conditions can change rapidly. The Kedarnath pilgrimage started on April 25 this year. The chopper shuttle services also began on the same date by seven operators approved by DGCA after an inspection conducted from April 20-23.

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Malaysian Authorities Seize Pakistan Airlines' B777 Over Unpaid Dues for Second Time in 2 years

Radhika Bansal

31 May 2023

A Boeing 777 jet operated by Pakistan International Airlines Corp. was impounded on May 29 in Kuala Lumpur over unpaid charges to a leasing company, forcing the carrier to send a replacement aircraft to pick up stranded passengers.

A Malaysian court ordered the plane to be seized on the lessor’s request, PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan said in a statement. Khan said that the state-owned airline will seek legal remedies to free the plane, saying that the disputed amount has already been paid.

This is the second time in the past two years that a PIA aircraft has been seized in the Southeast Asian nation. A spokesperson for AerCap Holdings NV, which Khan identified as the lessor, didn’t respond to a request seeking comment.

PIA has been struggling to overcome its financial problems after the European Union banned its fight operations in 2020 over fake pilot licenses. The Beoing 777 was acquired by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on lease from Malaysia. The plane with the BMH registration number was stopped for the second time at the Kuala Lumpur airport over payment of dues worth USD 4 million. The company ‘seized’ the PIA plane after receiving the order from a local court after payment of dues, the report said.

What happened the first time?

This is the second time the PIA aircraft has been seized in Malaysia over a dues issue. The same aircraft was seized by the Kuala Lumpur airport authorities in 2021 on the same issue. Later, the plane was released on diplomatic assurance about the payment of dues. The seized plane was brought back to Pakistan on January 27 along with 173 passengers and crew members on board.

The leasing company alleged that the Pakistani flag carrier stopped making payments in July 2020. It said it had filed a case against PIA in London High Court in October over the failure to pay a leasing fee of about USD 14 million, pending for six months. In response, Pakistan International Airlines claimed that since the pandemic affected the aviation industry, overhead charges should have been reduced.

Without any amicable solutions or payments, Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited kept a watchful eye on the activities of the flag carrier. And upon learning of PK 895's scheduled landing in Malaysia, the aircraft lessor appealed to the Malaysian court to seize the aircraft per international civil aviation leasing laws. The impound lasted for two weeks and was only released by the Kuala Lumpur High Court after both parties said they reached an amicable settlement.

The Pakistani flag carrier has been struggling to pay salaries for months due to a shortage of cash, and according to the pilots, the government has not stepped in to help either. This has left employees out of pocket and could lead to significant operational disruption if the walkout goes ahead.

PIA is currently banned from flying to the European Union, the UK, and the US - three huge markets for the airline, and the loss of revenue from being unable to operate these services is hitting its finances hard. In a bid to keep hold of its coveted slots at London Heathrow (LHR) while not in use, PIA has temporarily offered them to Turkish Airlines and Kuwait Airways.

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Alliance Air Plans to Implement ChatGPT Solutions to Overhaul Its IT Systems

Radhika Bansal

31 May 2023

While the Tatas grapple with the turnaround of Air India, its erstwhile regional subsidiary Alliance Air has quietly overhauled its IT systems by moving to a cloud-based infrastructure.

“The airline has achieved a remarkable digital transformation by implementing SAP RISE 2022 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to SAP cloud. With the help of implementation partner Wiredsoft - Ally Wiredsoft Solutions (P) Ltd. - the airline successfully completed the migration ahead of schedule, showcasing their commitment to innovation and progress. Recognizing the need for modernization due to their outdated systems on a decade-old on-premise IT infrastructure, Alliance Air moved to a cutting-edge cloud infrastructure, a step towards improving operational efficiency and enhancing the customer experience,” said Mukesh Sareen head of IT at the state-run airline.

“The implementation of the SAP RISE system will revolutionize key business operations in Finance, Human Resources, Commercial Operations, and Engineering. This will unlock new possibilities for the airline,” said Manoj Aggarwal, director of Ally Wiredsoft Solutions. The airline has also been exploring use cases for ChatGPT to uplift its customer experience.

The airline’s transformation is being led by CEO Mr. Vineet Sood, Head-IT Mr. Mukesh Sareen, along with Chief Financial Officer Mr. Ambar Mondal.

Centre allocates Rs 600 cr to Alliance Air

Centre has decided to infuse Rs 600 crore in the divestment-bound airline Alliance Air to restructure some of its debt and aid in alleviating its financial woes. As per industry and government sources, INR 600 crore will be infused in two tranches of INR 300 crore each. The first tranche is expected to be infused soon while the second tranche will only be released on the achievement of certain operational and financial milestones.

According to sources, the plan is expected to provide financial relief on the working capital front along with alleviating some airline debt. At present, the airline has an external debt of around INR 1,200 crore on its books. It has a turnover of more than INR 1,000 crore per annum. In FY22, the airline reported a net loss of INR 4,473.92 million from a loss of INR 3,599.32 million reported in FY21. Consequent to the financial woes, the airline recently faced resentment from pilots, who protested against the non-restoration of their pre-pandemic pay.

Presently, Alliance Air operates 56 destinations within India with over 130 departures per day. Furthermore, the airline is a major operator of flights under the UDAN (regional air connectivity) scheme, operating around 60 flights daily. It has a fleet of 18 ATR 72-600, 2 ATR 42-600 and 1 Dornier Do-228 aircraft.

The airline was an erstwhile part of Air India before the latter’s divestment. Currently, it is operated as a division under Air India Asset Holdings (AIAHL). It was founded in 1996 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of then Indian Airlines, which later merged with Air India. In 2021, Tata Group bought the debt-ridden Air India from the Central government, thereby, Alliance Air, as the only airline under the Centre’s control