Air India losses mount to Rs.200 crore as crisis continues
New Delhi/Mumbai, May 18 (IANS) The crisis in Air India raged on for the 11th day Friday and the national carrier's losses mounted to Rs.200 crore as the impasse between agitating pilots and the management continued.
'Contingency plan is in place. We are operating a bare minimum number of international operations by clubbing flights to destinations in Europe and the US,' a senior official of Air India's operations arm told IANS.
'We have lost about Rs.200 crore due to ticket cancellations, unused labour and with a bulk of our Boeing-777 fleet grounded. Our losses per day stand at Rs.13-15 crore,' the official said.
According to the official, the airline has started a special scheme whereby passengers can advance, postpone or cancel their tickets without any extra charges till May 22.
The airline has deployed the Airbus family of aircraft such as A320, A321 and A330 for international routes.
It is only operating eight of its 17 Boeing-777 aircraft which are normally manned by the pilots belonging to Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), who are now on strike.
The development comes a day after Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh called all unions of the airline for talks next week and the Delhi High Court refused to entertain the Indian Pilots Guild's (IPG) plea challenging the court's earlier order restraining the pilots from going on an 'illegal strike.'
Ajit Singh Thursday said he would discuss with the unions all outstanding issues such as pay parity and promotion, while a division bench of the high court said contempt proceedings should be started against the pilots.
The carrier's low-cost international wing, Air India Express, is also bearing the brunt of the agitation. The strike and the subsequent flight cancellations by the airline have disrupted holiday and other travel plans of hundreds of people.
Trouble started for the airline May 8 when pilot-members of the IPG took mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
The pilots have made four demands which include exclusive flying rights on Boeing 787 aircraft, payment of arrears from 2007 onwards, travel on first class when not working, and the right to be promoted as commanders within six years.
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