Friday, April 23, 2010
Indraprasth aka New Delhi - Air India on Friday said the decision to
charter a Delhi-Coimbatore flight to ferry Indian Premier League
(IPL) players was a "commercial" one and the civil aviation
minister's daughter had no role in it.
"The operation was a commercial decision taken by the competent
authority at the regional level, in the best interest of the airline.
Air India has not violated any of the rules governing the flight
operations by this service," Arvind Jadhav, Air India chairman and
managing director, said in a statement.
Jadhav said the request for the charter flight was made by the owners
of Chennai Super Kings franchise.
"Poorna Patel (civil aviation minister Praful Patel's daughter) was
not involved in this charter operation, nor did she travel on this
flight," he said.
According to him, chartered flights make a lot of money for the
airline. "We keep combining flights according to our operational
demand. The IPL anyway has been our customer ever since it began,"
He was reacting to a media report that said the minister's daughter,
who works for IPL, had the Delhi-Coimbatore Air India flight IC 7603
April 20 aborted less than 12 hours before departure to allow the
aircraft to be deployed to ferry her and some IPL players from
Chandigarh to Chennai.
"Normal charter rates as applicable were charged for the whole
operation, including ferry flight from Delhi to Chandigarh and from
Chennai to Delhi - apart from the charter flight from Chandigarh to
Chennai," he said.
"This charter was a planned operation undertaken after taking into
account all factors and standard operating procedures, including
clearance from defence authorities, regarding the operational
viability, without inconvenience to the passengers," the airline
It also claimed that the passengers were informed in advance of the
Air India is deep in red. It has been losing Rs.300 crore every
month. In the last fiscal, the airline lost around Rs.5,400 crore.
The government has approved equity infusion of Rs.800 crore for the
ailing carrier to tide over the cash flow problem and finance its
fleet acquisition. According to the minister, the carrier will get an
additional Rs.1,200 crore this fiscal as announced in the budget.
The Air India statement further said that it has been operating
charter flights on various occasions for defence and private parties,
taking into account the operational and commercial considerations.
"Charter flights are operated only on receipt of full money, the
charges are on the basis of block hours, including the ferry legs of
the flight," it said.
But a directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) official said the
airlines could provide chartered service only if a particular
aircraft was not being used for a scheduled service.
"Diverting a scheduled passenger flight for charter operation is not
permitted," the official said.
Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
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