TOPIC – Turbulence ahead

The Tata Group’s consummation of its acquisition of Air India last week marks both the culmination of the airline’s return to its original founders after an almost seven-decade hiatus, as well as the start of an arduous long-haul light for the loss-making, formerly state-owned lag carrier. The Tats’ enthusiasm for winning back what was once the country’s iconic airline brand notwithstanding, the skies in which the industry operates have changed considerably. A look at the market share data from the domestic air passenger segment clearly shows that budget or low-cost lights now hold a dominant position, commanding about four-fifths of the market. The Tata group’s full-service venture, Vistara, with no less a partner than Singapore Airlines on board, has struggled to establish a foothold and with Air India’s addition, the Tatas and themselves saddled with a bulk of their combined domestic market share of 23% (as of November) being in the less-in-demand full-service segment. Nor is the group’s newly combined share from the low-cost segment, comprising Air Asia India’s 5.9% and the fractional share that Air India’s Air India Express has, significant enough at the moment to give it scale in the high-volume business. That the group is said to be considering consolidating Air India’s domestic low-cost services along with Air Asia India’s operations is a clear indication that the Tata bosses realize the need to optimize the varied aviation resources that are now in the group’s fold so as to enhance viability. On the international front too, Air India faces multiple challenges, not the least of which is the Government’s current pandemic-related curbs on commercial international lights. With foreign carriers restricted to limited capacity under the ‘Air Transport Bubbles’ arrangement, Air India too has found itself constrained in the number of overseas lights it can operate under the bilateral arrangements with counterpart countries. The Tatas, though, could use the current curtailment of overseas services as an opportunity to undertake a long overdue overhaul of Air India’s insight experience. Also, with Vistara now operating to a few select overseas destinations, the Tatas will need to decide if they would want a younger in-house competitor to Air India once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and normalcy restored as regards international lights. For the Tata group, the choices going forward will need to be strategic. With the domestic market set to see more churn with at least one new budget airline set to enter and other rivals struggling for capital, the group needs to decide whether it wants to add capacity to budget offerings or stay a predominantly full-service carrier at a time when the more lucrative business class travel has been hit. And with aviation fuel costs set to soar further, Air India will need to tap into all of the Tata group’s vaunted managerial expertise if it is to turn into a successful buy.


The Hindu Editorial Words with meanings, synonyms, and antonyms 

Arduous (adjective) – Difficult to endure or accomplish

Synonyms – Strenuous, toilsome, steep, rugged, exigent

Antonyms – Wieldy, breezy, rudimental, comfy, reticent


Consolidating (verb) – To combine into a whole

Synonyms – Concatenate, coalesce, emulsify, federate, funnel

Antonyms – Dissipate, alienate, winnow, unhitch, rumple


Aviation (adjective) – Made or done as an experiment

Synonyms – Probative, conjectural, hypothetical, tentative, exploratory

Antonyms – Decisive, definitive, established, proven, conclusive


Curbs (noun) – A check or restraint on something

Synonyms – Stricture, damper, trammel, retardant, cramp

Antonyms – Foster, hasten, persuade, whisk, instigate


Constrained (adjective) – Unnatural, awkward or contrived in nature or behavior

Synonyms – Stilted, pseudo, spurious, bogus, stringent

Antonyms –Suave, faltering, vacillating, wavering, irresolute


Curtailment (noun) – The action or fact of reducing or restricting something

Synonyms – Retrenchment, diminution, guillotine, dwindling, pruning

Antonyms – Padding, augmentation, dispersal, extension, arousal


 Overhaul (verb) – To modify something after a thorough examination

Synonyms –Fettle, retread, emend, morph, jigger

Antonyms –Stagnate, ravage, scupper, mutilate, blemish


Churn (verb) – To agitate rapidly and repetitively, or to stir with a rowing or rocking motion

Synonyms –Whirl, muddle, convulse, ruffle, whisk

Antonyms –Soothe, laze, tranquility, harmony, peace


Lucrative (adjective) – Producing a surplus or profitable

Synonyms –Thriving, lush, halcyon, opulent, fructuous

Antonyms –Impotent, botched, bungled, slumping, barren


Vaunted (adjective) – Highly or widely praised or boasted about

Synonyms –Touted, hyped, venerated, laureate, peerless

Antonyms –Incognito, inglorious, trivial, inconspicuous, unsung