Should Air India Continue to use the MAHARAJAH?
Businessworld|October 31, 2021
SOON AS THE ACQUISITION of Air India by the Tatas was officially confirmed, I sent out a short questionnaire to about 100 of my frequent flyer friends. Almost all seasoned travelers, mostly C-suite occupants. I personally also called a few of them just for a better understanding. The feedback was intriguing, if not surprising.
Sandeep Goyal

When did you last travel on Air India, I asked? Most said they had not really been on the national carrier in almost a decade, perhaps more. But why did you keep away? As many as 52 per cent said ‘bad attitude’, 22 per cent stated ‘poor service’, 14 per cent blamed ‘terrible punctuality’. As many as 38 per cent ticked ‘no particular reason’. If and when you did travel by Air India, what was it that you liked?’ Of the respondents 60 per cent loved the spacious Dreamliners, 28 per cent said the food was very good, especially Indian cuisine and 22 per cent said the on-air staff were very well mannered, polite and helpful in business class. As many as 37 per cent were pretty uncharitable: they said they liked ‘nothing’.

Do you like the Maharajah mascot of Air India? About 74 per cent found him memorable and differentiated and 35 per cent found him to be cute. But does the Maharajah signify luxury? Almost everyone said ‘no’. So what does the Maharajah stand for? ‘Indolence’ was the near universal verdict! Royalty? No. Style? Certainly no. Luxury? Again, no. So, should the Air India continue to use the Maharajah as its mascot going forward? The house was a bit divided on that one. ‘Yes’ got 31 per cent votes, ‘No’ 33 per cent, while the balance took the safe ‘May be’ option.

Given the mixed response on the Maharajah’s continued usage, what options do the new owners of the airline really have?

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