CHENNAI: Come August 24, one of the most important and largest consumer associations in India will be celebrating its silver jubilee.
Born as the brainchild of D Sudhakara Reddy, who along with the passengers of a then Bombay to Madras Indian Airlines flight was made to wait nearly 27 hours before being flown out because of a technical glitch, the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) is now one of the largest such consumer organisation in the world and the largest in India with over 100,000 members.
“The seeds were laid more than 25 years ago, when a group of people shuttling from Mumbai to Madras were told our flight had been delayed,” narrated Reddy. “The delay went from hour to hour and we were provided barely any facilities. We weren’t provided lunch, we were made to wait all the afternoon and all our demands went unment,” he added. After a sparse dinner and cramped rooms for sleep, the passengers were flown out after 27 hours. The ordeal was a stark reminder that something was missing. “We drafted a memorandum in the waiting room of the hotel itself,” Reddy recalled. One thing led to another and the Air Passengers Association of India was born and registered a year later.
Now, the association has moved from strength to strength. It is mandated to nominate members to the boards of every major airport in India as per a government mandate and regularly takes up cases of consumer greviance.
“And we are looking to expand our services and member base. We want to reach a million members by 2020,” said Reddy.
The Association is not just looking to increase its size, but also the services it provides. The website is getting overhauled with a booking engine soon to be brought in for most airlines, where passengers can book from the association website itself. It is also thinking about tying up with firms to provide other services.
The new measures will be announced a few weeks after the celebrations in New Delhi on August 24.