Millennium Post

AI may resume international routes this month

State-owned Air India will resume most of its international operations by the end of this month. The airline was forced to scale down its international operations massively following the recent two-month strike by a section of pilots.

‘We will be ready to restart our full international operations by the end of August. We will restore New York, Chicago and Paris flights by then...also resume flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai,’ an airline official said on Sunday. AI will also add more services to the busy Southeast Asian regions by mid-August.

Around 400 pilots, members of the now de-recognised Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), had gone on a 58-day strike from 7 May to protest the decision to allow the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to train on the Boeing Dreamliners.

The strike forced Air India to cancel several profit-making as well as loss-making sectors, which caused a loss of around Rs 600 crore in unrealised sales to the already cash-strapped airline, which is sitting on a debt of Rs 67,000 crore.

The official said management had informed aviation minister that they will be taken back only on case-to-case basis.

Despite a court direction last month, the management is yet to start processing the applications of sacked pilots.

Around 350 IPG pilots, who were not terminated during the strike, have started flying. Experts said whether AI can win back passengers is to be seen, as private operators like Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo will soon start operating in the Gulf and Southeast Asia, two key markets for the flag carrier. The Aviation Ministry has decided to end AI's first right of refusal on international routes.

IndiGo has received approval to operate over 60 new international flights every week, of which nearly 30 are for Dubai and seven for Jeddah.
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