Air India to shift to interim plan from June 1 (Second Lead)

June 1st, 2012 - 12:39 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) National carrier Air India will shift to an “interim plan” to salvage its international operations that have been crippled by a 24-day-old pilots’ strike.

“We have finished work on our interim plan and it will be implemented from June 1. Under the new plan, several destinations where the load factors are quite low might be dropped for the time being,” an Air India official told IANS.

The airline is expected to fully shift to the truncated interim schedule from June 1, dropping seven international destinations including Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.

The airline will operate only 38 services instead of the regular 45.

According to the airline official, bookings for international destinations have been tweaked. The interim plan will come into effect on the day when Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh is expected to unveil some of the major suggestions of the Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari Committee.

The committee was constituted to recommend measures that will amend the integration barrier between Air India and the erstwhile Indian Airlines cadre, including that of pay scale and promotion.

Currently, the carrier is operating through a contingency plan under which a bare minimum number of flights are maintained by clubbing operations to various destinations in Europe and the US.

The interim plan comes a day after the strike by pilots of national carrier continued for the 24th day Thursday, pushing up its losses to more than Rs.330 crore.

“We have lost nearly Rs.330 crore on account of ticket cancellation, unused labour and bulk of Boeing 777 fleet being grounded.

“We expect to stabilise our operations and cut the losses to less than Rs.5 crore a day from June 2,” he said.

Air India has maintained that it has enough executive pilots to operate services to long-haul destinations in the US and Europe on some of the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft.

The airline is said to be examining several proposals to restore the international operations which includes wet leasing aircraft from other airlines.

The proposal, according to officials, will include renting of aircraft with pilots and cabin crew.

“There is a proposal to wet lease at least five aircraft with pilots and crew. We require pilots and crews to maintain operations to key destinations in Europe, the US and Southeast Asia,” said an official.

The airline’s performance was also reviewed by the Civil Aviation Secretary Nazim Zaidi, who met key Air India officials.

Trouble for the national carrier started May 8 when pilot-members of the Indian Pilots Guild took mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

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