The AI management ordered the pilots to report for duty failing which it said the airline "is at liberty to take any action as deemed fit including termination of services"
New Delhi: Air India (AI) today further reduced its operations to 39 domestic flights out of its regular 320 as the strike by its pilots entered the fourth day inconveniencing passengers, reports PTI.
"We have curtailed more than 52% of our domestic flights and operating on only trunk routes that is too metro cities," an AI spokesperson said.
"Under the contingency plan, we have reduced the number of flights as we don't have any pilots," he said.
While 21 flights will be operated from the national capital, Air India's Mumbai operations have almost come to a standstill as the airline may operate just five flights between 9 and 11.30am, an AI spokeswoman said in Mumbai. The national carrier did not undertake any operations from Mumbai before 9am.
Sources sad the AI will be operating the Delhi-Patna-Varanasi flight AI 409 and Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi AI 805 on an aircraft which has been taken on wet lease to operate the two flights. Under a wet lease, an aircraft comes along with crew members.
AI has so far withdrawn or cancelled 120 domestic flights.
Yesterday, AI had operated just 12 flights from the financial capital. Normally, the state-owned carrier operates over 40 flights a day on the domestic sector from Mumbai using narrow-bodied aircraft.
Nearly 850 AI pilots are continuing their strike ignoring stern warning of sacking by the management and the Delhi High Court's decision to initiate contempt proceedings against them.
Striking Air India pilots yesterday said they were willing to go to jail and refused to call off their agitation.
The Delhi High Court yesterday initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots for their "utter defiance" of its order on Wednesday to call off the agitation calling it as "brazen and smacking of sheer arrogance".
A lockout of the airline and invoking of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) were also being mulled to crack down on the pilots.
The AI management ordered the pilots to report for duty failing which it said the airline "is at liberty to take any action as deemed fit including termination of services".
The management sacked two more pilots yesterday taking to nine the number of pilots terminated. Six pilots have been already suspended.
Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which is spearheading the stir, is demanding a higher fixed component in the salary package, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into alleged mismanagement which has led to losses of over Rs16,000 crore and removal of Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav holding him responsible for the "financial mess".
April outflows could be around Rs1,500 crore, estimates a fund industry CEO
For three months in a row, equity funds have recorded net inflows after many months of continuous outflows. After inflows of around Rs800 crore-Rs900 crore in December 2010 and January 2011, in February 2011 inflows jumped to a massive Rs2,495 crore. In one of our articles on this issue we asked whether there was a turnaround in the fortunes of the fund industry which has been suffering massive erosion since August 2009. (Read, "Money flowing back into mutual funds: is there a trend change?") Our view was that it would take a few months more before we could say that a sustainable trend of inflows has started. Well, here comes the answer; though it's not the official one. In April 2011, around Rs1,500 crore in cash has probably flowed out of the equity funds, according to the CEO of a fund house. He sees no hope of money flowing back into equity funds in a major way.
According to sources in the fund industry, there could be two reasons for the resumption of outflows-a realisation that the equity market has not been a great place for returns over the past four years, and distributors' greed to earn more commission that has led to churning and no fresh inflows.
Money is partly flowing out because of investor behaviour. When a particular investment goes down sharply and then comes up to the purchase price after many months, investors tend to sell and get out. This is one of the reasons fund companies have cited for investors redeeming units and taking money out. Over the past three years, from 2008, the Sensex is actually down, which is not considered justifiable for the risk taken. Investors would rather prefer risk-free bank FDs which would fetch them around 9% with certainty.
However, distributors' greed for more commission is a major factor. After the ban on entry load from 1 August 2009, the mutual fund (MF) industry has seen a massive outflow of investments even as the bull market has continued. The truth is that the ban on entry load had dried up distributors' revenues, which led them to recommend unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) and company fixed deposits as the next best investment opportunities.
With desperate fund companies offering upfront commissions from their own fees, distributors have hit upon the idea of making customers churn, so as to get more of these upfront commissions. "As soon as one year and one day of any investment is completed and it qualifies for the long- term they try to convince clients to make an exit from the particular fund and invest in another fund, generating another round of commissions for themselves," says a CEO.
"If this is so, fund inflows won't turn anytime soon. Neither are market returns attractive, nor is the investor base widening," says a fund industry expert.