Air India incurs Rs 30 cr loss by delay, rescheduling

Air India incurs Rs 30 cr loss by delay, rescheduling
Non-availability of air crew led to a delay of 9,808 Air India flights, besides rescheduling of another 10,037 flights and cancellation of 554 flights in 50 months, resulting in a loss of around Rs 30 crore.

From 2012, an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found that such incidents are on the rise. An analysis of the trend in the first three months of 2016 showed that the non-availability of pilots is in the same range as the previous years, while that of cabin crew is on the wane.

In its report ‘Turnaround Plan and Financial Restructuring Plan of Air India Ltd’, the CAG has said that the delays and rescheduling of flights due to non-availability of crew led to excess expenditure to Air India for providing transport, hotel accommodation and other facilities to passengers to the tune of Rs 29.92 crore, between April 2012 and March 2016.

Between January 2012 and March 2016, there were 5,120 instances of flight delays due to shortage of pilots, and 4,688 delays due to cabin crew constraints. There were 8,530 rescheduling of flights due to pilots, and 1,507 reschedules due to cabin crew, while the number of flights cancelled due to cockpit crew constraints were 484, and 70 due to cabin crew constraints.

The CAG noticed that two departments in Air India are coming out with diametrically opposite views on staff position. While the Personnel Department said the airline has “excess” pilots, the In-flight Services Department and Operations Department maintained that there was “shortage” of pilots. Similar was the case with cabin crew numbers. The highly debt-ridden Air India is trying to be back in the game with a Turnaround Plan and Financial Restructuring Plan, and aiming to rationalise expenditure. The CAG has said that the carrier is not able to even implement the recommendations given by a high-level panel.

Another “substantial expenditure” was incurred due to flight crew continuing to stay in five-star hotels, despite the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee’s suggestion. Between 2012-13 and 2015-16, Air India has incurred Rs 119 crore for such accommodation in Delhi alone.

The CAG was not impressed as it said, Air India “was required to follow” the recommendation to “curb” such expenses.

However, the Ministry of Civil Aviation appeared to have defended the airline, saying its crew stayed in hotels where crew of other airlines stayed. “It was an industry requirement and practice to ensure that the hotels must have certain basic facilities which the crew required in order to get adequate rest and relaxation to minimise the fatigue element for safe operations,” the ministry observed.

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