Air India is poised to get its first installment of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft by the end of this month even as the crisis in the national carrier, caused by the pilots, continues.
An email from the Civil Aviation Ministry said that the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft would be brought to India from Seattle, US, and it welcomed the media to join the minister's entourage in bringing the aircraft to India.
The ministry's decision to visit America has not gone down well with those who think the all expenses paid trip is unnecessary when the cash strapped airliner is struggling for its survival.
The Dreamliner was at the centre of the strike which began 11 days ago.
Air India pilots objected to the management's decision to train pilots from Indian Airlines (IA) to fly the Dreamliner alongside them.
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The AI pilots objected to this move alleging that it would give the IA pilots an undue advantage in their career progression.
The 787-8 Dreamliner is a fuel efficient modern and technically advanced aircraft that can carry 210 - 250 passengers on routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles.
High Court Warns IPG
Elsewhere, the Delhi High Court Friday warned the striking Indian Pilots Guild of contempt of court action against them if they continued with their strike by willfully disobeying the court orders.
A single judge bench of the court last week declared the ongoing strike by the IPG as illegal. However, the union refused to budge and moved a division bench against the single judge's order holding the strike illegal.
Rejecting the petition, the division bench Friday said, We could have directly proceeded with the contempt of court proceedings against you, but we leave it to the single judge so that better sense will prevail on you (IPG), a PTI reported.
In our view, no litigant can avail of any discretionary remedy from the court by willfully and flagrantly disobeying the orders of the court, the judges added.
The defiant IPG maintained that it planned to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
We are taking opinion of legal experts...As far as I know; the court has asked us to take our petition to the single bench of the court, which we had filed before the vacation division bench, PTI reported IPG leader Tauseef Muqaddam as saying.
Highest Cancellations in April
The troubled airlines had another low Thursday when a data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that Air India had its highest number of cancellations in April. According to an Economic Times report, the airline cancelled 5.2 percent of its domestic flights in the month.
The data also revealed that the market share of the airline had dropped drastically and it had the worst On Time Performance (OTP) rate among the six air carriers reviewed in the data at less than 80 percent while other air carriers had an OTP rate around 86 percent, the report said.
The ongoing stir by the pilots, which entered the eleventh day Friday, has cost Air India 18.8 billion rupees.
Meanwhile, cashing in on the Air India's crisis, rival airlines have allegedly raised the fares. According to a Wall Street Journal report, major airlines including Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa, British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways and have raised fares by as much as 20 percent.
India's Jet Airways has also inflated its fares as the Air India passengers are forced to rebook their tickets because of the flight cancellations.
The government last week warned the private carriers against hiking their rates by exploiting the crisis in Air India.
The rift between the pilots of Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines has roots in the unscientific merger of Air India and Indian Airlines in 2007. The employees of both companies have been feuding over the different sets of promotion standards and pay scales, preventing smooth operations of the career.