AI pilots strike enters 22nd day; losses touch Rs 310 crore

The strike by pilots of national carrier Air India continued for the 22th day today, pushing up the losses to more than Rs 310 crore.

"Losses are on account of ticket cancellation, unused labour and bulk of Boeing 777 fleet being grounded. We expect to stabilise our operations and cut the losses to less than Rs 5 crore a day from June 2," an Air India official said.
"Bookings on our international flights have stabilized. We have placed maximum number of seats in the lowest price bracket which has helped bookings pick up in the domestic sector and international sector," he said.
The airline decided last week to reduce fares by placing a large chunk of seats under the lowest fare category to augment its share in the domestic and international sectors.
Apart from the new fare scheme, the airline will shift to a truncated interim schedule from June 1, dropping seven international destinations including Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto. 
The airline will operate only 38 services instead of the regular 45.
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.
Air India has maintained that it has enough executive pilots to operate long-haul destinations in the US and Europe.
The airline is said to be examining several proposals to restore the international operations which includes wet leasing aircraft from other airlines. 
The proposal, according to officials, will include renting of aircraft with pilots and cabin crew.
"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 Asia."
Trouble started for the airline May 8 when pilot-members of the Indian Pilots Guild took mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

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