The stalemate between Air India and the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG), which completed 50 days yesterday, doesn’t seem like it will be resolved anytime soon. While the pilots have gone on an indefinite hunger strike to pressurise the management, the latter stands firm on its decision. In the meantime, MiD DAY conducted an audit of the loss suffered by the beleaguered Maharaja of the Indian aviation industry.
According to the statements made by the ministry of civil aviation, only a few flights are affected by the ongoing strike. If the ministry is to be believed, 38 out of the total 45 international flights are operational. However, the ground reality is completely different. Out of total 20 Boeing 777 aircrafts, 14 are grounded at Delhi airport. The remaining six aircrafts are being operated by executive pilots.
Besides, each Boeing 777 aircraft costs over Rs 1,000 crore. The monthly charges paid towards its EMI, parking and insurance respectively come to a staggering Rs 5.5 crore. This means, the airline has suffered a loss of over Rs 77 crore per month, excluding the loss in revenue. Also, the airline has lost its market share by 75 per cent. Following the standoff, the airline is able to sell only 1,000 seats against the proposed 4,000 seats per day. This means, the Maharaja has lost over Rs 500 crore in the last 50 days.
While 11 pilots went on an indefinite hunger strike from Sunday at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, a few others started the fast yesterday at Azad Maidan. “We’re ready to resume work, however the management should reinstate all the sacked pilots and recognise our union. The minister of civil aviation wants us to join work first and discuss the issues later. If he doesn’t recognise our union, then whom will he discuss the issues with?” said Captain Tauseef Mukhadam of the IPG. Ajit Singh however remained firm on his earlier stand. “They can’t set conditions, as their strike is illegal. They can join but unconditionally,” he said.
Total staff: 42,000
Cabin crew: 4,400
Fleet size: 100+ aircraft
Ray of hope
While the Air India has suffered a loss of Rs 40,000 crore till date, the cumulative loss since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007 is over Rs 13,300 crore. Hence, the ministry of civil aviation had proposed over Rs 30,000 crore bailout package for the carrier by 2017.