The Air India on Tuesday told the Punjab and Haryana high court that Amritsar-Birmingham flight incurred losses to the tune of Rs 133 crore in 10 months between April 2016 and 2017.
The national carrier said internal audits had recommended discontinuation of the fight. But it was being run in the larger public interest, the airline told the court during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation in which HC had asked the AI to explain and produce relevant record pertaining to circumstances under which it changed the route of Amritsar-Birmingham flight to Amritsar-Delhi- Birmingham.
The airline did not produce any record prior to the year 2009 but said that the flight when being run directly from Amritsar was under heavy losses. Currently, only 35% passengers on the flight are from Amritsar rest from Delhi, it said. The high court had sought record on the PIL alleging neglect of the airport.
The Air India said Delhi being hub of the airline’s operation, the route was changed. It also said that the flight would incur more losses if run directly.
The bench appeared dissatisfied over the response of Air India and orally observed that if it was incurring losses it should “immediately” stop operation of flight.
Later, it asked amicus curaie ML Sarin to convene a meeting between officials of central government and international carriers operating in India to explore possibility of starting more flights from holy city.