Air India to operate only 50 flights today as executive pilots join protest strike

Nearly all executive pilots have reported sick since yesterday, seriously curtailing the airlines ability to operate the regular schedule of 320 flights

New Delhi: Air India has said it will operate about 50 flights across its network, against the daily schedule of 320 flights, as all executive pilots also joined the protest strike by pilots that entered its third day today.

“Under the contingency plan, we are operating 50 flights across the network today,” an Air India official said.

From Delhi, the national carrier will operate just 10 flights, and an equal number from Mumbai to the metro cities, PTI reports.

The airline has decided to use three wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft on the Bombay-Delhi-Ahmedabad- Bombay and Bombay-Ahmedabad-Bombay sector, so as to accommodate more passengers, the official said.

It will operate four special services using Air India Express from Mumbai, flying Boeing 737 on the Bombay-Abu Dhabi-Bombay, Chennai-Singapore-Chennai, Cochin-Calicut-Cochin and Calicut-Dubai-Calicut routes. Additionally, a jumbo service will operate on Bombay-Dubai-Delhi-Bombay.

With both the pilots association and the management hardening their positions, passengers continued to bear the brunt of the flights disruption. Most flyers have cancelled their tickets on Air India, but some are being accommodated on flights of other airlines.

According to the official, the cash-strapped national carrier is losing Rs4 crore daily on account of the flights disruption. Sources estimate that the figure may be more, as the airline has liabilities towards payment of instalments of new and leased aircraft and the salaries of its employees.

Yesterday, executive pilots started reporting sick, to join the agitation. The management has terminated the services of seven pilots and suspended six others.

“We are extending our 100% support to our agitating younger brothers in the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA). Over 300 executive pilots have reported sick, now it is up to the management to take action against all 800 pilots,” a senior pilot said. Out of 69 executive pilots, 68 had yesterday reported sick in Delhi and at other bases.

On Thursday, the Air India management initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots before the Delhi High Court, but the pilots have remained unfazed. Also, the conciliation talks called by the chief labour commissioner, between the management and the agitating pilots, have not made any headway as both sides stuck to their positions.

About 800 pilots, most of them from the former Indian Airlines that has been merged with Air India, have been on strike since Tuesday night, demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the mismanagement of the airline and the removal of the chairman and managing director. They have also been arguing for a fixed salary.


Indian stocks likely to open sideways on mixed Asian cues: Friday Market Preview

Analysts have estimated a 25 basis point hike in key interest rates by the RBI next week

The domestic market is likely to open sideways today on mixed cues from the Asian region, following a slower first quarter economic growth in the US. However, markets in the US closed with good gains on upbeat earnings reports. The SGX Nifty was down 16.50 points at 5,794.50 compared to its previous close of 5,811.

The market closed lower on Thursday, for the fourth consecutive day on fears that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will hike key rates at its monetary policy meeting next week, following sustained rise in food inflation.

In the morning, positive global cues helped the market open in the green, albeit with marginal gains. The Sensex was 84 points higher at 19,533 and the Nifty resumed trade at 5,851, up 17 points from the previous close. The market scaled to its intra-day high in early trade, with the Sensex at 19,542 and the Nifty at 5,856. But the indices slipped following the announcement of a marginal rise in the weekly food inflation numbers.
The market was choppy throughout the session and the indices touched the day's lows in the last half hour. The Sensex fell by 183 points to 19,266 and the Nifty was down by 57 points to 5,777. The indices closed below their psychological levels; the Sensex declined 157 points to 19,292 and the Nifty fell by 48 points to 5,785.

By the end of trading, the Nifty dropped to below the 5,800 level. The market is now in a downward trend. Immediate support is at 5,750, and further down at 5,700.

US markets closed higher on earnings reports brushing aside mixed economic data. Among the gainers, Boeing surged 3.19%, DuPont rose 2.03%, PepsiCo rose 2.64%, Dow Chemical gained 1.98% and Microsoft advanced 1.25%, while Hewlett-Packard fell 1.24%, Alcoa fell -0.52%, ConocoPhillips fell 2.98%, and Chevron fell 0.15%.

In economic news, US gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.8% in the first quarter compared with a 3.1% gain in the fourth quarter last year. Initial jobless claims for the week ended 23rd April rose by 25,00 to 429,000, the highest level since January and pending home sales index of contract signings rose 5.1% to 94.1 in March, from 89.5 in February.

The Dow climbed 72.35 points (0.57%) to 12,763.31. The S&P 500 added 4.82 points (0.36%) to 1,360.48 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 2.65 points (0.09%) to 2,872.53.

Markets in Asia were trading mixed on profit taking after recent gains and news of a slower first quarter economic growth in the US. Though the Chinese market was up, concerns about another rate hike played on investors’ minds.

The Hang Seng was down 0.02%, the KLSE Composite fell by 0.11%, the Straits Times declined 0.14% and the Seoul Composite was down 0.63%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite gained 0.27%, the Jakarta Composite rose 0.10% and the Taiwan Weighted added 0.06%. The Nikkei 225 is shut for a local holiday.

Back home, claiming that the CBI had “overlooked” the role of Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, an application has been moved in a Delhi Court seeking further investigation into the matter. The application was placed before Special CBI judge OP Saini who will hear it on 2nd May.

The application filed through counsel SK Singh alleged that Ms Radia played an active role in the grant of licenses to Tata Teleservices.


CWG Organising Committee orders probe into tampering of vigilance data

The OC maintained that there was no loss of data as the information was also saved on a different computer. It added that the OC was monitoring the CCTV footage and claimed to have zeroed in on to the accused

New Delhi: Suspecting a foul play, Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee (OC) has ordered an internal enquiry to trace those responsible for wiping out crucial vigilance related information from the computer of its Chief Vigilance Officer.

"We have already ordered an internal enquiry into the matter (tampering of computer data). We will take necessary action accordingly," OC chief executive officer Jarnail Singh told PTI.

According to the official, information on the computer of Gurjot Kaur, an Indian Defence Accounts Service Officer, was illegally removed from the system on 24th April.

The information was regarding tenders, correspondences and findings of investigating agencies like CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), CVC (Central Vigilance Commission), CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), Income Tax (I-T) department and Enforcement Directorate (ED) among others over alleged irregularities in several Games-related projects.

Ms Kaur was appointed in the Commonwealth Games (CWG) organising body last year and was acting as the nodal officer to coordinate with all probing agencies on vigilance matters.

"There were certain files which have been removed. Basically they had information on different correspondences made between different agencies like CVC," Mr Singh said.

However, he maintained, there was no loss of data from the incident as it was alternatively saved on a different computer.

"We have restored the loss data. It was saved with us on a different computer," the CEO said, adding that strict action will be taken against the erring officials.

Mr Singh did not divulge further information. Another senior OC official said that they were monitoring the CCTV footage and claimed to have zeroed in on to the accused.

Meanwhile, the CVC has also taken cognisance of the incident and sought a report from the OC in this regard.

"The incident cites vulnerability of the crucial data at the OC. We have asked the OC to step up measures to check re-occurrence of such things," a CVC official said.

The Games Organising Committee is under attack for many Games-related financial and managerial lapses.

The CBI has registered nine cases on alleged corruption and criminal collusion in Games-related works that caused loss worth crores to the exchequer. It has also arrested sacked OC chief Suresh Kalmadi in one of the cases being probed by it.

The prime minister Manmohan Singh appointed high-level Shunglu Committee has also pointed out several lapses in OC and alleged inadequacies in the works carried out by the Games body for the mega sporting event held here between 3rd and 14th October last year.


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