August 23, 2008

Mallya’s Foreign Cabin Crew Will Be on Board

By Saurabh Sinha

NEW DELHI: The foreign cabin crew hired by Kingfisher for its international operations was being trained on ground, as the airline was not allowed to deploy expat air hostesses on domestic flights, even for the training purpose. These foreign cabin crew members will be able to start flying for duty, when the airline begins its international operations on September 3.

Interestingly, this problem arose as Kingfisher had some months back sought permission to deploy foreign cabin crew on domestic flights, to be trained for the international flights. When approached, government agencies had to refuse permission as there's no rule for this. Other carriers who were allowed to fly abroad earlier are learnt to have trained their foreign cabin crew first on their domestic flights as they did not seek prior permission to do so.

Kingfisher estimates that it will require about 1,600 cabin crew members for its international flights, of which 200 would be expats, said sources. "We are going to retain our policy of all female cabin crew on international flights also," said a senior airline official. Kingfisher has got the mandatory security clearance for the foreign cabin crew, most of whom are from places like southeast Asia, breakaway Soviet republic and Gulf. Those hires are a mix of freshers and experienced air hostesses.

Only Indian carriers that fly abroad - Jet and Air India so far - are allowed to hire foreign cabin crew members. Now Kingfisher has also joined this elite group as it can go abroad on Deccan's licence from August 26 when the Captain Gopinath-launched LCC completes five years in operation.

Kingfisher has since merged into Deccan. Interestingly, since the name of the merged entity is Deccan Aviation and is yet to be renamed Kingfisher as per Mallya's plans, the international flights are being sold as "Deccan trading as Kingfisher Airlines".

Once the renaming is over, Mallya is likely to have two brands - one for the full service flights and other for low cost ones - like Jet-JetLite and Air India-AI Express. The premium service is likely to be offered on the full service flights of Kingfisher.

(c) 2008 The Times of India. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.