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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

AI may resume key international routes by month-end

PTI   August 06, 2012
First Published: 08:42 IST(6/8/2012) | Last Updated: 13:25 IST(6/8/2012)

National flag carrier Air India, which was forced to scale down its international operations massively following the recent two-month strike by a section of pilots, will resume most of its international operations by the end of the month.

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"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.

The airline   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, had gone on a 58-day strike from May 7 to protest the decision to allow the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to train on the Boeing Dreamliners.

The strike forced AI 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.

On taking back the 101 sacked IPG pilots, 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.

350 IPG pilots, who were not terminated during the strike, have started flying.

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, following the aviation ministry decision 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, while SpiceJet can now operate nearly 50 new overseas flights a week, including seven each to Dubai and Riyadh.

 Market leader Jet Airways can now add nearly 60 more flights every week, including 14 to Kuwait.


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