When liquor baron Vijay Mallya called the airhostesses for his Kingfisher Airlines "flying models", he was being literal. The airline, which is planning to taxi onto Indian tarmacs on May 7, has sent its 80 airhostesses for a training regime that is similar to that held for beauty pageants.
The airline has roped in the Mumbai-based Mickey Mehta, the fitness and spiritual guru, Sabira Merchant (also Mumbai-based) for voice training, Asha Hariharan, who runs a beauty salon in the city, for haircare, and fashion stylist Prasad Bidappa from Bangalore.
Delhi designer Manoviraj Khosla has been selected to design the airhostess' bright red and white uniforms. The low-cost carrier has also employed the services of designers like Ritu Beri, Rohit Bal and Malini Ramani to design the interiors of every Kingfisher plane, which will be called Funliners.
Mehta has put the girls on a three-week fitness regimen. They will be focusing on body sculpting (read: exercising), nutrition and diet, body language, meditation and etiquette, among other things.
Every airhostess has been given a diet chart that lists what she can and cannot eat. Says Mehta: "This is the first corporate initiative by an aviation company to invest in grooming flight personnel and it is a wise one. This will ensure the staff is well turned out and always ahead of the competition."
Ajit Bhagchandani, general manager, in-flight services, at Kingfisher Airlines, told Business Standard: "The training is the implementation of our chairman's mission. We do not want our in-flight personnel to be just good looking. They must have a style and look that is distinct."
The airline is sparing no expense on this exercise, though Bhagchandani declines to divulge exactly how much it is spending.
According to Bhagchandani, Kingfisher Airlines has sent its airhostesses and crew for training, keeping in mind the fierce competition in the skies.
Some 27 per cent more passengers took to the skies in India during the last financial year, but more airline companies have leaped in, too. Nearly all of them have the same kinds of planes and what will make one airline stand out from the rest is the quality of service.
Kingfisher Airlines is also training its personnel in safety and security. Its in-house team comprises former employees of international airways like Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. The company has also sanctioned a huge sum to procure security equipment.The motto at Kingfisher is to be the airline that offers the best service in the country. Naresh Goyal better be prepared for some competition.