With pilots on strike, Air India losses mount to Rs.600 crore

Air India's losses have mounted to  Rs.600 crore with the pilots' strike continuing for the 54th day Friday.

The pilots are demanding reinstatement of their 101 sacked colleagues and recognition of their union -- Indian Pilots Guild (IPG).

Meanwhile, two of the 11 pilots who are on a hunger strike near the 18th century Jantar Mantar observatory in the city, were hospitalised. "Two pilots who are on hunger strike have been hospitalised today. They have been on the indefinite hunger strike since Sunday. The doctors are monitoring the health of all the other pilots who are on hunger strike," Rohit Kapahi, committee member of the IPG, told IANS.

On Thursday, parents of the pilots met Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan. The management has maintained that pilots must end their strike first and that the sacked pilots will be reinstated on a case-by-case basis.

Around 440 pilots have struck work since May 8 against the management move to train pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines in the merged entity on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing-787 Dreamliner.

The airline said its estimated revenue loss due to the pilots' strike is around Rs.600 crore and that traffic to east Asia and Middle East has been badly hit.

Grounded fleet of Boeing 777s, unused manpower and absence from key routes has hit the airlines' chances of a financial turnaround.

"Current revenue losses are nearly Rs.600 crore on various accounts like ticket cancellation, unused labour and bulk of Boeing 777 fleet being grounded," an Air India official told IANS.

"But the losses are less than Rs.5 crore a day," he added.
Currently, the airline is operating only 38 of its original 45 services. Among the seven axed international destinations are Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.

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.

Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in 2007 to form a single entity to overcome their sub-optimal performance and in the hope  the step would result in Rs.1,000 crore profit in the first year itself.

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