Amid heightened conflict and recent military skirmishes with neighboring Pakistan, state-owned Air India has ordered crew members to end every cabin announcement with a “slight pause” followed by recitation “with much fervor” of the words, “Jai Hind,” which roughly translates as “victory to India” or “long live the homeland.”
The closure of Pakistani airspace to Air India flights has forced the airline to reroute and in some cases, divert hundreds of flights. Management at the flag carrier is desperate to let passengers know that even as they suffer through increased flying times and delayed departures, their sacrifices are not in vain.
An internal document obtained by BBC News reveals that crew members at the government-owned carrier have been ordered to sign-off every cabin announcement with the phrase “Jai Hind,” which translates closely as “victory to India” or “long live the homeland.” The instructions to pilots and cabin crews signed by Air India Director of Operations Amitabh Singh, even provide some very specific stage directions for delivering the patriotic salutation with maximum impact.
“With immediate effect, all are required to announce, ‘Jai Hind’ at the end of every announcement after a slight pause and much fervor,” the company advisory addressed to “All Crew” demands.
The rather nationalistic new close to cabin announcements has not helped to soothe the jagged nerves of disrupted air travelers. Although few have questioned the rationale behind showing a bit of patriotism as tensions with a nuclear-armed adversary reach a near crisis, customers have taken to social media to marvel at the juxtaposition of normally stoic cabin announcements being followed by a brief pause and fervent “Jai Hind.” The practice indeed seems to be akin to a Delta Air Lines captain chanting “USA! USA! USA!” following an update on local weather conditions prior to landing.
Air India officials say the escalating aerial military conflict with Pakistan has caused airspace closures forcing the airline to make a number of time-consuming adjustments. According to the carrier, flights to Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) from North America and Europe will be routed through Dubai International Airport (DXB) or Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) indefinitely. Likewise, flights from DEL to Europe and North American destinations are being rerouted via Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) or Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (AMD). The airline has attempted to put a face-saving positive spin on this news as well.
“In view of the prevailing situation regarding closure of airspace, we would like to inform our esteemed passengers that astute route-planning for our long and medium-haul flights have been drawn up by our operations in preparedness of any contingency, including closure of airspace, so that flights operate with minimal delay,” Team Air India said in a statement to international customers. “Air India would like to inform that no flights are cancelled and there will be only an increase in the flying time.”