Air India has put barriers on local calls for its staff in a desperate measure to cut costs, by insisting that most of its staff must go register with the exchange operator and not dial numbers themselves – even suspending the practice of dialing 9 to get a local dialtone.
Given the credit crunch and slowdown mood in the economy, this could well be emulated by India Inc. in coming days.
By cutting the staff’s ‘lifeline’, the Maharaja intends to save Rs 25 crore a year – or a quarter of its communications costs.
Curbs have also been imposed on the use of stationery and printers, besides restrictions on clothing, electricity, mobile phone and petrol bill allowances for employees.
All these are expected to save Rs 200 core a year, said senior officials of the airline famous for its Maharaja mascot, which is expected report losses running into more than Rs. 2,000 crore.
The airline believes a lot of time and money is wasted on personal stuff.
“Now we have to give the number to the exchange who then connect the calls. There is no freedom and it is irritating to make a call. We have to wait for a long time in a queue. Forget personal calls. Official calls are suffering,” said an employee asking not to be identified. Several other officials have confirmed this restriction.
Following an uproar by employees, the self-dialling facility has been restored only for some key departments like flights dispatch, sales and marketing. But more than 60 per cent of the airlines’ 23,000 staff who are in non-operational areas are still under restriction.
The move comes days after the Air India management shelved its leave-without-pay scheme for employees due to political pressures after private rival Jet Airways suffered angry staff protests when it tried layoffs.