Loss-making national carrier Air India (AI), which had been wasting money on maintaining offices and staff in foreign countries even where it did not operate any flight, has now started shutting down some of them with the new government taking over.
Minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that AI is in the process of closing down its offices in Cairo and Tehran while it has already shut down booking offices in Zurich, Chittagong and Vienna. An AI committee is in the process of taking action to close the Cairo and Tehran offices.
The carrier generated only Rs 58.56 lakh from the Cairo office and Rs 1.4 crore from the Tehran office as revenues during 2013-14, Sharma said in a written reply. Besides, a committee is looking to address issues of downsizing the carrier's Toronto station and the process is in the final stages.
The airline generated more than Rs 67.1 crore revenues from the Toronto office during 2013-14 period. AI would retain its offices in Washington, Los Angeles and Amsterdam, he added.
MAILTODAY had first broken the story on June 1, 2014, that AI was splurging money on an army of staffers posted abroad at stations where it did not operate any flight or just a single flight, which did not justify the manpower. Sharma confirmed that there are nine stations where AI does not operate any flight-Washington, Los Angeles, Toronto, Amsterdam, Cairo, Tehran, Zurich, Vienna and Chittagong.
The MAIL TODAY story had pointed out that AI had 53 foreign stations of which 24 were offline where the carrier does not operate flights. The carrier had close to 100 employees in America and an equal number of agents and handlers to oversee its limited operations. Jet Airways and other carriers do not have any staff at most of the foreign stations and a minimal number at others.
"These airlines generally operate through the agents and handlers and have a minimal staff of their own unlike Air India," a senior AI official had told MAIL TODAY.
The benefits which officials at foreign postings get include 50-60 per cent higher wages besides other perks-free housing and school fees for their children and free travel to India for themselves and their family (including extended family) members.