Air India (AI) CMD Ashwani Lohani has said that employees leaking stories to media should be “identified” and “counselled” to work in the interest of the airline.
Negative media reports are the “handiwork of some of our disgruntled employees who unfortunately are unfaithful to their own organisation”, Lohani said in an internal communication.
Lohani’s letter comes in the wake of a recent media report that an international flight out of Chennai had been delayed on April 6 as the Captain insisted on flying with a particular woman co-pilot. The story turned out to be false and a subsequent inquiry revealed that the Captain, despite being sick, was forced to fly after five pilots had refused to operate the flight.
The inquiry also found that the woman co-pilot had in fact reported for the said flight 15 minutes before the captain so there was no question of the pilot delaying the flight for her. “All these things are digitally recorded. The story was planted to damage the pilot and AI’s reputation,” said an official.
AI, Lohani said in the letter, would launch non-stop flights to Washington DC by August this year and follow it up with flights to new destinations in Europe and Africa.
The airline was aiming for an operational turn around in this fiscal or the next, he said. He, however, said that this was just the first milestone and AI still had a long way to go to meet its total costs. “Even after meeting basic operational costs, a gap of almost Rs 4000 crore per annum towards debt servicing remains to be covered. Unless and until we are able to do that, our survival would always remain at stake,” he said.