New Delhi/Mumbai, (IANS) A grounded fleet, ticket cancellations and unused labour have cost Air India Rs.100 crore in the seven days since the pilots went on strike, an official said Monday.
The airline scrapped 14 international flights on the seventh day of the agitation Monday while its low-cost international wing, Air India Express, cancelled four flights. The carrier’s domestic operations have been in disarray.
“The total losses in the week is around Rs.100 crore. We had to face ticket cancellation, unused labour and an entire grounded fleet of our 777s. We also have to cancel 14 flights for the day,” a senior Air India official with the operations arm, told IANS.
He said the contingency plan would be implemented “within two or three days” whereby a guaranteed minimum international operation will be on. “We are monitoring the situation and informing the passengers in advance.”
The airline has stopped bookings on some of its ultra long-haul routes till May 15, effectively cancelling more than 15 flights per day to major sectors such as the US, Europe, and some other destinations like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Air India had grounded the bulk of its 17 Boeing 777 aircraft. Maintaining the grounded aircraft add further to its expenditure.
Meanwhile, the five independent directors of the company met at a meeting here supported the management’s decision to sack pilots and derecognise their union, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG).
Earlier during the day, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh reiterated that the pilots should come back to work after which all their issues will be discussed.
Asked about the IPG pilots coming to meet him, Singh said: “There was no information, no meeting. My PA (personal assistant) told me they had come but there was no plan. I was not aware. I didn’t know they came and went away.”
Singh had Sunday regretted the move by the government to merge the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India and had said there should have been due diligence before that.
Trouble started for the airline May 8 when pilots belonging to IPG took mass sick leave protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
The pilots had earlier said they were open to talks. But the government has not till now accepted the offer, saying there would be no negotiations till the pilots returned to work.
The airline has also moved petitions in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. The apex court will hear the petition along with special leave petition (SLP) filed earlier by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots.