Air India stops bookings for US, Europe till 15th May

With over 200 pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild refusing to join duty, Air India has suspended its international operations to the US, Canada and Europe  
New Delhi/Mumbai: Crisis-hit Air India on Thursday stopped bookings for the US, Canada and Europe-bound flights till 15th May 15 as it sacked nine more pilots on day three of their agitation which led to cancellation of over 20 flights and left hundreds of passengers fuming, reports PTI.

With over 200 pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) refusing to join duty, Air India said it was suspending its international operations to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Toronto, London, Paris and Frankfurt. Some other foreign destinations are also likely to be affected.

Air India sacked nine more pilots taking the number of pilots whose services have been terminated to 45. While 10 pilots, mostly office bearers of the IPG, were dismissed on Tuesday, another 26 were shown the door yesterday. Air India management has also derecognised IPG.

Showing no signs of relenting, the IPG asserted that the AI management must withdraw the sack orders and till then there was no question of resuming work.

The agitating pilots sought the intervention of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resolve the impasse.

"It is a matter of life and death and career for the pilots. Talks were held by IPG with AI management which did not honour its commitments. The management is having a non-serious attitude towards our grievances,'" Jitendra Awhad, IPG president, told reporters.

Over 20 Air India flights were cancelled today from Delhi and Mumbai. From Delhi flights to Frankfurt, Shanghai, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago and Seoul were cancelled while Air India flights to New York, Riyadh and Shanghai were not operating from Mumbai.

Air India daily operates about 50 international flights and 400 domestic flights.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, "If they (pilots) are not willing to follow the court order, why would they listen to me. They have to decide to follow the High Court order. That's the law but they are not willing to do so. What can we do."


‘Hiring, pay packets for freshers in IT sector rising’: Survey

The survey findings reveal that IT and ITeS sector had recruited 24% freshers in the last quarter of FY'12 of their total hiring, a surge of 9% from the year-ago period. Salary level in campus placements was up by 8% in IT and ITeS

New Delhi: Notwithstanding the economic uncertainty, fresher recruitment and salary levels have seen a upward trend in the IT and ITeS sector during the January-March quarter of 2012 compared to other sectors in the same period, shows a survey, reports PTI.

The survey findings reveal that IT and ITeS sector had recruited 24% freshers in the last quarter of FY'12 of their total hiring, a surge of 9% from the year-ago period.

Besides, salary level in campus placements was up by 8% in IT and ITeS.

Overall, recruitment index has risen by 11% in January-March quarter to 24%.

Among the nine industries surveyed, infrastructure sector recruited 21% freshers, followed by engineering and manufacturing and automobile sector (18%), retail (16%) and FMCG (14%).

"The fresher's hiring trend this year looks upbeat with IT majors recruiting more compared to last year. The fresher's recruitment market had seen growth in terms of number of hiring and salary," said Rajesh Kumar, CEO, MyHiringClub, which conducted the survey.

However, fresher recruitment in banking and financial services, telecom had taken a beating in fourth quarter of 2012 in comparison to same period last year.

Further, hiring in banking and financial services declined by 2% to 13% and dipped by 4% to 9% in telecom sector.

The survey, which was done among nearly 900 employers and over 1,200 institutes, said the growth of salary level in campus placement was low in banking and financial services as it grew by 2% and rose a dismal 1% in telecom space.

In terms of geography, Bangalore, hub of IT and ITeS companies witnessed a maximum fresher recruitment of 24% followed by Delhi-NCR (21%), Chennai (18%), Mumbai (15%), Hyderabad (13%) and Kolkata (10%).

Talking about outlook, Kumar said: "global concerns would not have an impact on the fresher recruitment in the current year though it might be an issue later. Even if various economic issues in the developed countries have an impact on the Indian industry, the fresher recruitment would not be the first to get affected by this."


RIL buying bank shares while waiting for its financial business venture

The Mukesh Ambani-led giant has bought shares, worth Rs1,200 crore in six top banks and HDFC, even as it is awaiting regulatory clearance for its financial services business joint venture with DE Shaw Group

New Delhi: Awaiting regulatory approvals for its foray into financial services sector, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has acquired shares in giants like HDFC, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank as part of long-term 'investments', reports PTI.

These financial investments, estimated to be worth over Rs1,200 crore, include purchase of shares of six banks -- three each from the public and private sectors -- and home loan lender HDFC.

The banks whose shares RIL has acquired also include HDFC Bank, SBI, Punjab National Bank and Canara Bank and these have been classified among 'long-term investments' of the country's biggest private sector company in its annual report for the year 2011-12.

All shares in these seven companies were acquired last fiscal and their total value stood at Rs1,233 crore as on March 2012, and remains almost same at current prices. RIL did not own any shares in these seven companies at the end of the previous fiscal, 2010-11.

Interestingly, the disclosure about share purchase in these companies comes along with an update by RIL in the annual report that its joint venture with global giant DE Shaw Group for financial services business was awaiting regulatory clearance to start operations.

RIL had announced this JV in March 2011 "to build a leading financial services business in India". No specific details have been disclosed so far about the business and products to be offered through this JV.

The report being sent to RIL shareholders ahead of their Annual General Meeting next month said, "This JV is awaiting necessary regulatory approvals for the commencement of business activities."

Meanwhile, RIL also said that it has submitted its reply to SEBI on show-cause notices issued in two cases by the capital market regulator, which oversees a large part of financial services sector in the country.

The notices were issued in connection with the "sale of shares of erstwhile Reliance Petroleum Ltd and the allotment of equity shares of the company (RIL) to certain companies against detachable warrants attached to privately placed debentures issued by the company (RIL)," it said.

With regard to the equity investment in seven financial sector giants, the acquired shares account for very small stakes - ranging from 0.004-0.01%.

Among these, RIL's holding of HDFC (1.44 crore shares accounting for about 0.01% stake) were worth Rs949 crore as on 31 March 2012, followed by 5.4 lakh shares of SBI (0.001% stake) worth Rs112 crore. The value of shares held in each of the other banks were in double digits.


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