Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Air India hires master chef to design menu for San Francisco flight

MR TURNAROUND has just started showing his activism in Air India. In a bid to woo more passengers to the National Carrier, newly-appointed CMD of Air India, Ashwani Lohani, known as Mr Turnaround who was earlier a CMD of Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), has decided to rope in Rajan Loomba, chief executive chef, The Ashok, to design the meal for the non-stop service, says a media report.
Lohani can “handle...
sick companies and turn them around”. He is “a highly decorated officer who is also known as Mr. Turnaround.” He is Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers official Ashwani Lohani, who was on August 20 named the chairman and managing director (CMD) of ailing national carrier Air India Ltd for three years. He is also credited with the turnaround of the ITDC post-disinvestment in 2001-02.
So, Air India passengers travelling on the soon-to-be-launched Delhi-San Francisco non-stop service will have a chance to relish food prepared by renowned chefs. Loomba has been entrusted with the job of designing the menu for the non-stop flight. The non-stop flight starts on December 2 and will operate four-times-a-week.
“We are trying to showcase the best of Indian cuisine. It will be largely Indian. But there will also be choice as Air India’s passengers also include foreigners,” Loomba said. Being a person who believes that the first contact of food is through the eyes and not the taste buds, Loomba is working hard to come up with a presentation which will say “pick me up” to flyers.
Ashok hotel is a flagship ITDC property.
Declining to give out too many details of the menu as it is still being drawn up, Loomba says that the focus will be on KIS (keep it simple) food.
“The food has to be good looking, tempting and what is good looking and tempting also has to taste good. Initially the emphasis is likely to be on north Indian cooking,” he says.
The national carrier will launch its first non-stop flight to San Francisco from Delhi on December 2 and the company is expecting a passenger load factor (PLF) of roughly 80% for the economy class and 75% for its business class segment in its latest venture.
According to a senior official, Air India will provide with 18 business-class seats and 290 economy-class seats in the long-haul flight.
The plan to fly non-stop comes after the ailing company received fresh funding from the government as part of the turnaround plan.
Air India is likely to make an operating profit of about Rs 6 crore this fiscal and the management of the national carrier has taken a decision to induct 15 Airbus A320 aircraft on lease to improve the domestic operations. It also plans to induct six more Dreamliners in the fiscal 2018, which will enhance the company’s services in the long-haul flights.
Air India has prepared a plan to add 25 aircraft, the national carrier's first fleet expansion since an order for 111 aircraft placed in 2006, as it seeks to expand network to underserved regions
Air India operates a fleet of 115 aircraft and recently inducted five new Airbus 320s to replace old planes.
Air India has accumulated losses of Rs 20,000 crore and is aiming to turn profitable by 2018-19. The airline is expected to post a consolidated net loss of Rs 5,400 crore by March 2016.

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