Thursday, September 13, 2012

Take measures to cut cost, Ajit tells Air India

NEW DELHI, September 12, 2012

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, on Wednesday, expressed hope that Air India would make a turnaround in its fortunes with the induction of long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliner. He, however, asserted that the government would give no more bail-outs to the cash-strapped national carrier.

The first commercial flight of the state-of-the-art Dreamliner would take off on September 19 from New Delhi to Chennai and Bangalore.

"We are hopeful that the fuel-efficient Dreamliner will take Air India back to the good old Maharaja days," he said at a media interaction here. However, he was quick to assert that Air India would have to take strong measures to cut costs as the government could ill-afford to give any more money to the flagging airline.

Air India had posted an increase in revenue of 6.5 per cent during April-September this year at Rs.4,757 crore against Rs.4,467 crore in the same period a year-ago despite a long strike by the pilots. "For the first time since merger in 2007, the airline has made a cash surplus of Rs.48 crore during April-July 2012 as against a cash deficit of Rs.586 crore in the year-ago period," the Minister said. The net loss during April-July 2012 came down by Rs.557 crore. Mr. Singh said Air India had taken back 316 of the 413 pilots who had reported sick, a move that led to disruption of Air India's normal schedule.

"Of the remaining 97 pilots, whose services were terminated, 50 pilots have been recommended for reinstatement, five pilots have not been found suitable, and the remaining are still under consideration," he added.

Air India CMD Rohit Nandan said the airline had set up a committee to have a close look at the market and decide on whether there was need to induct more aircraft.
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