A Quarter-Century On, Indian Airline Passenger Group Still Has Consumers in Mind

The Air Passengers Association of India, which has one of the more interesting creation stories in the world of associations, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week—and with a track record of success, it sees much potential for growth in the years to come.

Associations can be created at any moment, for any number of reasons. In the case of one India-based consumer-rights group, that moment was 27 hugely annoying hours long.

The Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) came about when a December 24, 1989, Indian Airlines flight out of Mumbai was delayed for more than a day, without any indication from the airline of when the situation would be resolved. The food was meager; the sleeping quarters were cramped.

D. Sudhakara Reddy, one of the passengers on that flight to Chennai, was so frustrated by the experience that he launched APAI in November 1990. But the seed was planted during the delay.

“We drafted a memorandum in the waiting room of the hotel itself,” Reddy told The New Indian Express of the fateful, if frustrating, experience that birthed APAI.

In comments to The Hindu, Reddy noted that the lack of set scheduling for private airlines in the country was a key pain point that the group wanted to fix back then—a pain point that has since been solved.

“At that time, one of our priorities was to persuade the government to permit private enterprises to operate scheduled airlines,” Reddy told the newspaper. “This was not only to ensure better fares for passengers were available to fly but also to have more options to fly. Unlike now, when there are so many flights on a given day to a city, back then, the options were limited.”

Since then, APAI has played a significant role by stepping in during a number of crises, both big and small. The group has both helped out individual passengers who have lost luggage and entire flights of people facing frustrating layovers.

APAI, which is celebrating its silver jubilee on Wednesday, has bold goals for its future. The group has more than 100,000 members, as well as an appointed role at each of India’s major airports. But Reddy says that the group is looking to further expand its role in the years to come by adding a variety of new services, including the ability to book directly from the APAI website.

“We are looking to expand our services and member base. We want to reach a million members by 2020,” Reddy told The New Indian Express.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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