Tuesday, November 20, 2018

SRK bats for Air India; wants to be Maharaja’s ambassador

IN A big cheer for the Maharaja, Air India has found a fan in Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who wants to “unofficially and unabashedly” declare himself as the ambassador of the national carrier for its services.
“… Thank u to the ground staff and the wonderful pilots for a hospitable warm & beautiful journey...Maharaja, Maharaja hi hota hai...,” Khan, who took an Air India flight from New York to Mumbai, tweeted on November 18 (Sunday.)
The airline, on its part, said it was always...
a pleasure for the Maharaja to serve King Khan, calling the actor by his popular name.
“The Air India family is so happy to see your kind words of appreciation which are so encouraging for us. We are truly humbled when ‘King Khan’ is the brand ambassador for ‘Maharaja’,” the airline said.
Debt-laden Air India also said the star’s words of appreciation were encouraging. The airline is working on ways to turn around its fortunes and there have been instances of the airline facing flak from customers for its poor services.
In June, a ministerial panel chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley deferred the strategic sale of the government’s 76 percent stake in Air India. Instead, it was decided that the government would look at the sale of assets and subsidiaries of the national carrier to reduce the debt burden.
Air India, which has been in the red for long, had a debt burden of Rs 48,000 crore at the end of March 2017.
The government had originally proposed to offload 76 percent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players. However, the offer failed to attract any bidder when the deadline for initial bids closed on May 31.
The national airline is staying afloat on a bailout package extended by the previous UPA regime in 2012 and the government is also looking at ways to infuse more funds into the carrier.
Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha was among many who retweeted Khan’s praise of Air India. There is no official brand ambassador of the national carrier.

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