AI takes to the sky: Air India’s Maharaja gets an AI-enabled avatar, turns a virtual assistant

In a groundbreaking move, Air India has claimed the title of the world’s first airline to successfully deploy a Generative AI virtual agent.

Aptly named ‘Maharaja,’ this cutting-edge AI assistant is driven by Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service, marking a significant milestone in the aviation industry’s embrace of artificial intelligence.

The initiative, launched in the testing phase in March 2023, has since soared to new heights. Air India proudly asserts that Maharaja has effectively addressed over half a million customer queries, currently handling a remarkable volume of more than 6,000 inquiries per day. This virtual assistant operates seamlessly in four languages: Hindi, English, French, and German.

Maharaja’s Multifaceted Role
Maharaja takes charge of a diverse spectrum of customer inquiries spanning 1,300 categories. From flight status and baggage allowances to packing restrictions, check-in procedures, frequent flyer awards, airport lounge access, flight changes, and refunds, this AI assistant navigates a comprehensive array of topics.

Of the daily influx of 6,000-plus questions, Maharaja boasts an impressive response rate, successfully answering over 80 per cent of queries within seconds. For the remaining 15% that require additional assistance, Maharaja autonomously identifies the need and seamlessly transfers the query to Air India’s contact centre agents.

Satya Ramaswamy’s Perspective
Satya Ramaswamy, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Air India, emphasizes the airline’s commitment to delivering unparalleled service and experiences to valued guests. He notes a discernible shift in guest preferences towards chat interactions, leveraging Large Language Model-driven Generative AI capabilities for quick and direct access to information.

Reduced Human Intervention
The introduction of Maharaja signifies a reduced need for human intervention in handling basic queries, allowing for the automation of repetitive tasks such as booking, cancellation, and confirmation. This strategic implementation, according to Air India, optimizes human agents’ bandwidth, enabling them to focus on more intricate and value-added interactions.

Blend of Technologies and Safeguards
Air India adopts a strategic blend of traditional machine learning techniques alongside Generative AI in its operational framework. The company emphasizes the establishment of safeguards to prevent the infiltration of biased or harmful language into its conversational AI system.

Microsoft’s Pleasure at the Milestone
Marco Casalaina, Vice President, AI Platform, Microsoft, expresses delight at Air India’s successful deployment of Maharaja. He lauds the airline’s use of Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, envisioning the deployment as the inception of a new era in customer service.

Casalaina anticipates more organizations harnessing the power of Generative AI and Microsoft’s AI-optimized Azure cloud to deliver seamless and efficient customer experiences.

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