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'AI domestic services not hit by strike'

May 25, 2012 16:02 IST

Air IndiaThe ongoing strike by a section of Air India pilots has not affected the national carrier's operations in the domestic sector, a senior airlines official said on Friday.

"A total number of 108 flights a day are being operated from various stations in the southern region as per schedule," Sunil Kishen, executive director (South), Air India, said.

Speaking to reporters in Chennai, he said the carrier was maintaining its summer schedule of operations to the Gulf and South East Asia but admitted there was a 'small dip' in the passenger count on all sectors following apprehensions arising because of the strike.

"None of our pilots in this sector has gone on strike and it is the regular workforce which is operating the flights.

And even in the sectors where a section of pilots has gone on strike, a contingency plan has been put in and passengers are being flown to the destinations," he said.

The US and Europe routes were affected but contingency plans were on to handle the situation, he said adding there were no direct flights from the southern region to these sectors.

To a question, he said the airline was contemplating operating services to Australia from the southern sector but a final call would be taken after the acquisition of Boeing 787 flights which can fly around 250 passengers, he added.

Two of the Dreamliners were scheduled to be acquired in the coming days, he added.

After the meeting, IPG sources said they would be meeting on Friday evening to take stock of the discussions five of their members had with the Minister and decide on the future course of action.

In a letter to Singh, IPG General Secretary Erjahn Kapadia had sought an appointment with the Minister, saying they wanted to present their case before him.

However, the minister said, "Some pilots wanted to meet me. So I met them," making it clear that the IPG was now a derecognised body.

He said Air India was already implementing a contingency business plan in accordance with the situation that it is facing now in the wake of the agitation by the pilots.

The strike has so far caused an estimated loss of over Rs 250 crore (Rs 2.5 billion) to Air India, which has been operating curtailed international operations.

The national carrier has announced the contingency plan would remain effective till June 30.

Under the interim schedule, Air India will operate 38 international flights per day instead of 45 that it operates under normal conditions.

While most flights affected are those to Europe and North America where a curtailed operation is on, the destinations not covered under this schedule are Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.

All flights to the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, Thailand and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries are being operated as per normal schedule.

Domestic operations of Air India are also carrying on normally and there has been no disruption on this front because of the present agitation, officials said.

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