Air India may restore international bookings and spruce up a new flight schedule following the three-week strike impossed by its pilots.
According to Press Trust of India (PTI), 130 executive pilots have been roped in to operate international flights that will commence over the weekend. In accordance with the Flight Duty Time Limitation, the pilots are required to fly 40 hours per week and 1,000 hours each year at a maximum.
The news agency cited sources who said that the pilots in question will take months to achieve the 1,000 hour mark, but should be capable to "carry on for months together", despite the crisis in its flight operations. It was also said that the airline has no passenger backlog and that fresh bookings will commence soon.
Currently, the carrier is operating through a contingency plan under which a bare minimum number of flights are maintained by clubbing operations to various destinations in Europe and the US.
As of now, flight schedules are carried out under a contingency plan which requires only minimum flights to operate to several long-haul destinations. Some of the flight routes Air India currently include on a daily basis are "Delhi-Paris-New York (JFK), Delhi-Frankfurt-Chicago, Delhi-London, Mumbai-London, Delhi- Tokyo and Delhi-Shanghai", the report said.
The new arrangement will likely bolster profitability for the debt ridden airline, whose financial loss touched Rs 320 crore during the strike. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Monday had even assembled a panel to work around the airline's loss-making routes.
The panel will be required to recommend any non-profitable routes or carriers within a week's time."Such planes will be phased out and the perennially loss-making routes will be shut down. The biggest cut could come from international operations. This will reduce the requirement for pilots," the Times of India quoted a source as saying.
Meanwhile, the airline is making efforts to mobilize fares to help improve its market share in the airline sector. "Bookings on our international flight have stabilised and we have placed maximum number of seats in the lowest price bracket... that has also helped bookings in the domestic sector as well in the current contingency plan," an Air India official said according to IBN Live.
Air India board officials are also said to have proposed several measures to help recover international operations. "There is a proposal to wet lease at least five aircraft with pilots and crew. We require pilots and crews to maintain operations to key destinations in Europe, US and southeast Asian destinations like Hong Kong," an official said in a statement according to the report.