Airline cites rising fuel prices, recession, losses on non-stop routes

Cash-strapped Air India plans to sell five out of its eight Boeing 777-200LR (long range) aircraft to reduce the loan burden.

Rising fuel prices, as B-777s-200LR are seen as gas guzzlers, global recession, and continued losses on non-stop routes have forced the national carrier to take this step, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, K.C. Venugopal told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Air India had inducted these aircraft between 2007 and 2010 to cater for long-haul routes and undertake non-stop operations between India and the U.S.

However, due to a sharp increase in fuel prices, some of the ultra long operations like Bangalore-San Francisco never commenced. “It was found that the yield from non-stop routes of B777-200LR was poor.”

Mr. Venugopal said the airline had not sold any aircraft in its fleet before its average age, 7.8 years.

On manpower, the Minister said the country was facing a shortage of 1,200 air traffic controllers.

To ease it, 200 junior executives (ATC) were recruited in 2012 and of them 187 joined duty.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) board had approved recruitment of 400 JE (ATC) annually for the next three years.