In a first-of-its-kind action, the government has decided to step in and set the house in order at debt-laden Air India (AI).
Aviation secretary V Somasundaram has started convening daily review meetings to monitor AI’s dismal on-time performance (OTP), asking airline officials to explain the reasons for flight delays on a day-to-day basis.
HT had earlier reported on February 2 that the airline has been directed by the ministry to fix accountability for flight delays and recover money from employees for losses caused.
In December 2014, AI had the worst OTP of 59.8% among domestic peers, even lower than SpiceJet, which had cancelled around 1,800 flights during the month.
Sources said three senior AI officials are briefing Somasundaram or the joint secretary on the previous day’s OTP, reasons for delays and corrective measures.
“The ministry has taken it on itself to monitor the OTP more closely,” an AI spokesperson said.
According to experts, this was a signal that the ministry was not too pleased with the state of affairs at the national carrier. “The ministry needs to ask the airline what is going on,” aviation expert Rajji Rai said. “Otherwise, what’s the point of pouring of in thousands of crores of rupees to keep the airline alive.”
“Our OTP was as high as 85% till sometime back,” an AI official said. “The daily meetings are likely to continue till the OTP improves.”