Our planes are not outdated, says Air India Express

India''s national carrier Air India (AI) today asserted that it was not flying "outdated" aircraft. Rejecting charges raised by the Kerala Pravasi Association that the airline''s low-cost subsidiary AI Express was operating "outdated aircraft" from the Karipur international airport at Kozhikode (Calicut), an AI representative said the 43 AI Express planes put in service at the airport were less than three years old, and that some of them were acquired as recently as eight months ago.

The airline reiterated it was operating flights strictly adhering to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rules. "AI Express planes, mainly operating from south Indian airports to Gulf destinations, were acquired less than three years ago. Aircraft operating from other places were purchased after 1996," an AI official told the media on Thursday 6 September.

The association had recently alleged that Air India provided "extremely poor" services and was operating outdated aircraft that posed a severe danger to the lives of passengers. It also accused the airline of cancelling and postponing flights very frequently, thereby inconveniencing passengers.

The AI official admitted that there could be errors regarding flight schedules, but said that AI call centres inform travellers about these changes well in advance. Those who do not provide their personal telephone numbers can face trouble in such circumstances, the official explained.

AI has now started sending SMSs to passengers'' mobile phones to communicate flight delays immediately. The airline says it also maintains standby aircraft that can be put in service whenever there is an extraordinary delay.