New Delhi: Faced with burgeoning losses, Air India on Thursday said it has decided to combine, reschedule or curtail about 25 flights daily on its domestic and international sectors out of a total of over 400, with the onset of the lean season and to cut costs.
“Due to beginning of the lean season June to September some flights have been clubbed, combined, rescheduled, curtailed depending upon commercial or business decisions, and this number is very small - 25 only,” an Air India spokesperson said .
Despite the curtailment or clubbing of flights, “we have ensured that our connectivity to all destinations is maintained”, he said.
Air India operates over 400 flights per day on domestic and international routes, while its subsidiary Air India Express, which flies mostly to Gulf countries, operates 189 flights per week.
The lean season closely follows the peak summer vacation time and continues from mid-June till September.
The spokesperson said that rejigging, combining or clubbing, rescheduling of flights was a common annual business practice and was not associated with the recent aviation turbine fuel row with the state-owned oil companies.
The Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petrolum Corporation Limited and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited have restricted ATF supply to Air India upto the amount which it would pay on a daily basis.
According to latest figures, Air India owes a total of Rs 2,250 crore to the three oil PSUs. The airline’s daily fuel bill was Rs 13.5 lakh in December when the oil firms stopped the credit line which has now risen to Rs 16.5 lakh.
Latest official figures showed that Air India and Air India Express (AIE) operated 422 and 71 flights respectively on 27 May, while 17 AI flights were combined and two AIE flights were cancelled.
The two carriers operated 398 (AI) and 72 (AIE) flights on 28 May , 420 and 61 flights on 29 May, 427 and 65 on 30 May , 413 and 58 on 31 May, 428 and 73 on Wednesday and 426 and 71 Thursday, the figures showed.
Stressing that restrictions on fuel supply was not an issue, the spokesperson said “there is enough fuel available and we are paying the oil companies as mutually agreed upon”.