Air India Rolls Out 'Project Abhinandan' for Personalised On-Ground Passenger Experience

Radhika Bansal

12 Sep 2023

Air India rolled out 'Project Abhinandan' to provide a personalised and hassle-free on-ground experience to passengers, said the company in a press release. As part of the project, Air India has deployed specially trained Service Assurance Officers at 16 major Indian airports, who will offer on-ground assistance across airport touchpoints to Air India guests who may require it – at check-in area or lounges, near the boarding gates, during transit, or at the arrival hall.

Air India’s Service Assurance Officers will be placed at strategic touchpoints to proactively engage with guests, provide support, or troubleshoot any issues. They are also trained to address unforeseen issues such as missed flights, delayed baggage delivery and misconnections at airports, among others.

Rajesh Dogra, Chief Customer Experience & Ground Handling Officer, Air India, said, “Airport experiences can be daunting for many air travellers, despite how frequently one travels. ‘Project Abhinandan’ is our sincere effort to simplify the airport experience for our guests and make a meaningful difference to their overall travel experience, and more broadly, to make them feel at ease and welcomed when they fly with us.” “Flying is a wonderful experience, and we want our guests to enjoy it in the most seamless ways possible. We are constantly evaluating new ways to enhance that experience in our effort to transform Air India into a truly world-class airline. ‘Project Abhinandan’ service is a step in that direction,” Dogra added.

They will be available at airports in addition to the other Air India and ground handling agencies’ staff. Air India has already recruited and deployed over 100 such officers across airports, as per the statement, and they will assist any Air India guest, regardless of the cabin class one is booked in.

Air India’s Service Assurance Officers at airports will assist any Air India guest, regardless of the cabin class one is booked in, requiring airport assistance at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Varanasi and Vishakhapatnam.

The development comes as the airline has been taking proactive measures to redefine, rebrand, and reimagine all aspects of its service, from physical appearance and logos to guest experience. This is especially important to Tata Sons as the conglomerate is working to merge Air India with its other full-service carrier Vistara post the acquisition of the former from the government.  

Premium Lounge Network Expansion

Air India is working quite hard to elevate the travel experience for its premium customers. Air India has expanded the coverage of lounge access from 16 to 26 airports in the country as part of its ambitious 5-year transformation strategy, Vihaan.AI. The airline has successfully established strategic alliances with airport lounges in important cities including Dibrugarh, Indore, Jammu, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Nagpur, Patna, Srinagar, and Vadodara.

To expand its premium hospitality, the airline has deliberately partnered with top-notch food courts at 11 airports where dedicated lounges were not available. This step further ensures that Air India’s premium passengers can enjoy top-class services at lounges or food courts at an impressive 37 airports across India.

But Air India‘s commitment to excellence doesn’t end within the borders of India. The airline has gone above and beyond to provide an unparalleled lounge experience to its premium customers at all 41 destinations in its international route network. By collaborating with the finest lounges at multiple international airports, Air India has achieved 100% lounge access coverage for its elite travellers.

The airline’s lounge network has been expanded to include some renowned international lounges. Passengers can now enjoy the Swissport Lounge at Chicago, the SAS Lounge at New York-Newark Liberty, and Japan Airlines’ Sakura Lounge at Tokyo Narita. In addition, Air India has transitioned to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge in Bangkok and the Balaka Executive Lounge at Dhaka airports, further enriching the premium travel experience.

Air India takes pride in offering its signature lounges at two prominent locations – Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (Terminal 3) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. These signature lounges epitomize luxury and comfort for discerning travellers.

The lounge services are exclusively available to guests travelling First or Business Class and eligible members of Air India’s frequent flyer program, Flying Returns, as well as those from other Star Alliance member airlines. With its unwavering dedication to providing a world-class travel experience, Air India continues to soar to new heights, captivating the hearts of its premium clientele across the globe.

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Bangladesh Shifts to Airbus with Ten Aircraft Deal

Abhishek Nayar

12 Sep 2023

In a significant development, on Monday, September 11, 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Bangladesh has committed to ordering ten aircraft from Airbus, marking a pivotal moment as the South Asian country shifts away from its Boeing-dominated fleet.

The Airbus Deal - A Game Changer for Bangladesh

Breaking Away from Boeing

Bangladesh's decision to opt for Airbus aircraft signifies a remarkable departure from its historical reliance on Boeing. For years, the country's aviation sector has primarily been under the influence of Boeing planes, but this new contract could reshape the industry landscape.

The A350 Widebody Jets

The acquisition primarily centers on the A350 widebody jets, known for their fuel efficiency, cutting-edge technology, and passenger comfort. These aircraft are set to enhance Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd.'s fleet significantly.

Benefits of the A350

The A350's advanced features bring several advantages, such as reduced carbon emissions, lower operating costs, and increased passenger capacity. These benefits align with the global aviation industry's growing emphasis on sustainability and efficiency.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd. - Key Player in the Deal

The National Flag Carrier's Role

Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd., as the country's national flag carrier, plays a pivotal role in this aircraft acquisition. The airline is expected to utilize the A350s for expanding its international routes and improving its services. Biman Bangladesh, which is 51 years old, has a fleet of more than 20 Boeing planes, more than half of which are widebodies, and some Dash-8 turboprops.

Strengthening Global Presence

The addition of Airbus A350s to Biman Bangladesh Airlines Ltd.'s fleet is expected to bolster the airline's international presence, allowing it to tap into new markets and enhance connectivity.

The Significance of This Agreement

Economic Implications

This agreement is not just about acquiring new aircraft; it carries significant economic implications. The deal with Airbus is expected to boost economic ties between Bangladesh and France, potentially opening doors for further collaborations in various sectors.

A Shift Towards Sustainability

As the world increasingly prioritizes sustainability, Bangladesh's choice of the environmentally friendly A350 aircraft underscores its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to global climate goals.

The Road Ahead - Finalizing the Deal

Finalizing the Contract

While the announcement has been made, the finer details of the agreement are yet to be finalized. This includes aspects like delivery schedules, financing terms, and the specific configurations of the A350s.

Navigating Complex Negotiations

The negotiations between Bangladesh and Airbus are expected to be intricate, given the scale of the deal. Both parties will need to address various logistical and financial challenges to bring the deal to fruition.


"I appreciate your confidence in the European aerospace industry." And this commitment for ten Airbus A350s is significant," Macron said in a media conference following a meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladesh's junior minister for civil aviation, Mahbub Ali, stated that the initial purchase will be for two Airbus jets.

"We have requested ten aircraft in phases." The technical committee is currently assessing. These planes will operate on both new and old routes. Each country's fleet includes Airbus and Boeing. But we only have Boeings, not even a single Airbus," Ali explained.


Bangladesh's decision to order ten Airbus A350 widebody jets marks a transformative moment in the country's aviation history. This shift from Boeing to Airbus represents not only an upgrade in the airline's fleet but also a commitment to sustainability and economic growth. As the agreement between Bangladesh and Airbus is finalized, we can expect to witness significant changes in the nation's aviation landscape.

With Inputs from Reuters

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COMAC's C919 Order Discrepancy Raises Questions

Abhishek Nayar

12 Sep 2023

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) has been at the forefront of the aviation industry with its C919 airliner, aiming to challenge the dominance of established players like Boeing and Airbus. However, the contradictory statements regarding the number of orders for the C919 have raised eyebrows within the industry.

Understanding the Significance of Order Book Numbers

The Lifeline of Aircraft Manufacturers

The order book is the lifeblood of any aircraft manufacturer. It reflects the confidence airlines have in a particular aircraft model and serves as a critical indicator of future production and revenue. For COMAC, the C919's success hinges on the accuracy of its order book figures.

The Impact on Market Perception

In an industry where perception can make or break a company, reported order numbers play a pivotal role. Higher numbers suggest strong demand and can attract more customers, while lower figures may raise concerns about the aircraft's popularity.

He Dongfeng's Statement: 1,061 Orders

He Dongfeng, the chairman of COMAC, made a significant announcement during the 16th Pujiang Innovation Forum. He stated that the C919 had secured a total of 1,061 orders.

Dongfeng further provided a brief update on the C929, formerly known as the CR2929, stating that China's domestically manufactured wide-body aircraft is still in the "preliminary design stage."

Zhang Yujin's Contradictory Statement: Over 1,200 Orders

Contrary to He Dongfeng's statement, Zhang Yujin, COMAC's vice president, claimed that the manufacturer had received over 1,200 orders for the C919. This declaration, made in January 2023, baffled industry observers as it contradicted the earlier statement.

Analyzing the Discrepancy

The stark difference between He Dongfeng and Zhang Yujin's statements has left many questioning the accuracy of COMAC's order book. Several factors could contribute to this discrepancy:

Timing of Statements

The statements were made several months apart, leaving room for fluctuations in order numbers. Airlines may have placed new orders or canceled existing ones during this time.

Internal Communication

COMAC's internal communication processes may not be as streamlined as one would expect from a major aerospace manufacturer. This could lead to confusion and inconsistency in reported figures.

Variability in Definitions

The definition of an "order" can vary among manufacturers. Some may include options, while others only count firm commitments. Understanding how COMAC defines an order is crucial to deciphering the numbers.

Industry Implications

The conflicting statements regarding the C919's order book have wider implications for the aviation industry. Airlines, investors, and competitors are closely watching this situation, as it could impact their decisions.


The mystery surrounding the C919's order book numbers continues to intrigue the aviation community. While He Dongfeng and Zhang Yujin's contradictory statements have raised questions, it's essential to remember that order book figures can fluctuate. To gain a clearer picture, it may be necessary for COMAC to provide transparent and consistent reporting.

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Irish Subsidiary Leases Cutting-Edge Aircraft to KLM for European Expansion

Abhishek Nayar

12 Sep 2023

In the dynamic world of aviation, partnerships and aircraft acquisitions play a pivotal role in the success of airlines. On September 11, 2023, CDB Aviation, a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. ("CDB Leasing"), announced the signing of lease agreements with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ("KLM") for three new Airbus A321neo aircraft. This exciting development marks a strategic move for KLM as it enhances its fleet and paves the way for future growth and expansion.

A New Horizon for KLM

The Airbus A321neo: A Game-Changer in Aviation

The Airbus A321neo is a cutting-edge narrow-body aircraft renowned for its fuel efficiency, environmental sustainability, and advanced technology. It is equipped with CFM LEAP-1A30 engines, known for their reliability and superior performance. These engines not only reduce carbon emissions but also promise operational cost savings for airlines.

KLM's Vision for Growth

KLM, one of the world's oldest airlines with a rich history dating back to 1919, has always been at the forefront of innovation and customer service. With the lease of three Airbus A321neo aircraft from CDB Aviation, KLM is reaffirming its commitment to excellence. These new additions to the fleet align perfectly with KLM's vision for growth and modernization.

A Strategic Partnership

CDB Aviation: A Reliable Partner

CDB Aviation, as a subsidiary of CDB Leasing, brings a wealth of experience and financial stability to the table. Their reputation for reliability and excellence in aircraft leasing makes them an ideal partner for airlines seeking to expand their fleets.

Medium-Haul Routes in Europe

KLM's decision to deploy these aircraft on medium-haul routes in Europe is strategically significant. With Amsterdam Schiphol as its global headquarters, the airline is well-positioned to maximize the potential of these new additions. Passengers can look forward to more comfortable and eco-friendly travel options on popular European routes.

The Road Ahead

As KLM eagerly anticipates the delivery of the three Airbus A321neo aircraft between September and November 2024, the airline is preparing to embark on a new chapter of its storied history. These modern, fuel-efficient, and environmentally conscious aircraft will not only enhance KLM's operational efficiency but also contribute to its sustainability goals.


"We are thrilled to be expanding our long-standing relationship with KLM through the addition of these brand new A321neos to their fleet on operating lease," stated Peter Goodman, Chief Commercial Officer of CDB Aviation. "These next-generation aircraft offer the best performance in their category for the group's network needs, benefiting from the latest technological innovations."

"Carriers like KLM, whose fleet renewal strategies are ambitious, value the flexibility and certainty provided by lessors they can rely on to execute." With a rapid post-pandemic recovery, lessors have been required to rely on ingenuity and novel techniques to help airlines reach their fleet expansion and renewal goals. We are pleased that KLM chose our team for these aircraft. The results of our collaboration will be critical in assisting KLM in meeting its decarbonization targets," stated Jie Chen, CDB Aviation Chief Executive Officer.


The lease agreements between KLM and CDB Aviation represent a strategic move that will undoubtedly propel KLM to new heights in the aviation industry. With a commitment to excellence, sustainability, and customer satisfaction, KLM is well-prepared to serve its passengers and shape the future of air travel.

With Inputs from CDB Aviation

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Aviation Employment Surges 8% Since Pre-COVID Levels

Abhishek Nayar

12 Sep 2023

In the dynamic world of transportation and aviation, the latest statistics from the Bureau of Transportation paint a picture of remarkable growth. As of July 2023, the aviation sector boasts a staggering 803,893 employees, marking an impressive increase of over eight percent since July 2019. This significant rise encompasses both passenger and freight airlines, showcasing the industry's resilience and determination.

The Ascension of Aviation Employment

The statistics gathered in the middle of July reveal that the industry has welcomed an additional 60,853 workers in 2023 compared to its 2019 counterpart. This growth is indeed a testament to the sector's ability to bounce back from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Aside from the report's main conclusion of increased employment in the industry, the data provides an array of intriguing insights. Notably, the industry continues to grow at an impressive rate, with 2,058 fresh employment opportunities generated between June and July 2023 alone.

Pre-Pandemic Employment Figures

To better understand this remarkable surge, it's essential to put it into perspective. In the year 2023, before the pandemic altered the course of the aviation industry, the Department of Transportation reported that there were 743,040 personnel actively contributing to the commercial aviation sector.

Key Factors Behind the Surge

Several factors have contributed to the resurgence of the aviation sector's workforce:

Economic Recovery

The post-pandemic world has witnessed a rapid economic recovery. As global economies have regained their strength, the aviation industry has followed suit, benefiting from increased passenger demand and the need for efficient cargo transportation.

Technological Advancements

The aviation sector has also embraced technological advancements, streamlining its operations and enhancing its overall efficiency. From cutting-edge aircraft designs to improved air traffic management systems, innovation has played a pivotal role in driving growth.

Expansion of Regional Routes

A notable development has been the expansion of regional routes, connecting previously underserved areas. This has opened up new opportunities for airlines, resulting in a higher demand for skilled personnel.

The Importance of a Skilled Workforce

With the aviation sector's workforce reaching unprecedented numbers, the importance of a skilled and well-trained workforce cannot be overstated. From pilots and cabin crew to air traffic controllers and ground staff, every role within the industry plays a critical part in ensuring the safety and efficiency of air travel.

The Future of Aviation Employment

As we look ahead, the future of aviation employment appears promising. With the continued growth of international travel and the development of next-generation aircraft, the industry is poised to offer even more career opportunities in the years to come.


In conclusion, the latest statistics from the Bureau of Transportation paint a bright picture for the aviation sector. With an increase of over eight percent in its workforce since July 2019, the industry has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability. As economies recover, technology advances, and regional routes expand, the aviation sector's growth trajectory remains firmly on course.

With Inputs from Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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New Rajkot International Airport Begins Flight Operations

Radhika Bansal

11 Sep 2023

The Rajkot International Airport in Gujarat has officially commenced its flight operations on September 10. Meanwhile, the old Rajkot Airport has ceased its commercial operations, with the closure beginning on September 8 night. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has closed down the previous Rajkot Airport as the new greenfield airport becomes operational. Officials and equipment from the old airport will be relocated to the new Rajkot International Airport as part of the transition to the new facility.

Budget airline IndiGo will now operate all its services from Rajkot International Airport, with scheduled flights arriving and departing from this new facility. The last flight from the old Rajkot Airport took off on September 8.

Situated on the Rajkot-Ahmedabad highway, the newly built airport is located 30 km away from Rajkot City and the erstwhile Rajkot Airport. To enhance passenger convenience, the state government will provide a bus service from the ST bus stop to Rajkot International Airport, with daily departures starting at 6 a.m. and every two hours after that.

Rajkot International Airport, dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July, covers a total land area of over 2,500 acres and was developed at a cost of more than INR 1,400 crore. The construction includes a runway, apron, and parallel taxi track, among other features. This international airport is envisioned as a transportation hub for travellers departing from the state and heading overseas. Its terminal building, with a total built-up area of 23,000 sqm (excluding the basement), can handle up to 1,800 passengers during peak hours.

The airport incorporates a blend of modern technology and sustainable features. The New Terminal Building (NITB) is equipped with sustainability features like a double-insulated roofing system, skylights, LED lighting, and low-heat gain glazing. Additionally, the terminal building is GRIHA-4 compliant, signifying its adherence to Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment standards for sustainability.

Apart from advanced features, the new airport has a runway, apron and a parallel taxi track. This international airport is envisioned as a pivotal transportation hub, catering to travellers departing for foreign destinations. The terminal building, boasting a substantial built-up area of 23,000 sq metres (excluding the basement), can accommodate up to 1,800 passengers simultaneously.

The airport is capable of handling Airbus A380Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 type of widebody aircraft, and has a rainwater harvesting system, solar power system and a green belt along its periphery to act as a noise barrier. It has a built-up area of 23,000 sq.m. and has an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, four aerobridges, an apron suitable for parking 14 aircraft, three conveyor belts, 20 check-in counters, advanced firefighting systems along with modern and efficient passenger facilities. It will be capable of serving over 1,800 passengers during peak hours. 

The facade design of the terminal is based on the Ranjit Vilas Palace and various traditional art forms like Dandiya dance, a renowned dance form of Gujarat. The airport, measuring 2,534 acres (10.25 km2), is situated 36 km from the existing Rajkot Airport, whose capacity is constrained and cannot be expanded because of urban growth around it.