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Loss making Air India to shell $50000 for extending flight hours of an old plane

PTI 04 Nov 2014, 12:25:27 PM IST

New Delhi: The loss making national carrier Air India has to shell out another $50000 as the airline asked for the extension of flight hours of Airbus A-320-231 by 1000 flight hours from the permitted 60000 flight hours. The Director General of Civil Aviation approved the extension in October this year.

However, according to sources Air India scrapped a plane last year, which had just completed 45,000 flight hours and could have been operated further. The aircraft would have been utilised without the need for seeking permission for another 15000 hours at least.

"The problem is nobody cares about the bad financial and administrative health of the airline. It must be investigated as why is the cash starved airline ready to pay at least $50000 for this extension," said an Air India insider.
When contacted Air India's executive director for public relations, Anil Mehta referred the query to another airline official, who did not respond to dna's queries regarding the matter.

DGCA in its letter on October 7 granted the permission for extension, while referring to the two request letters from Air India on September 2 and September 19.

"Approval of the competent authority is hereby conveyed to the proposal for the grant of extension of Design Service Goal by 1000 Hrs, beyond 60000FH for operating Airbus A-320-231 aircraft VT-EPH...belonging to Air India," read the DGCA signed by the deputy director of Airworthiness, Arvind Mohan.

DGCA has further asked the airline to report any abnormality to them during this period. Also the airline has to submit a report regarding the safe flight of the aircraft after every100 hours.

Earlier in August, two unions of the All India Service Engineering Association and Air India Employees' Union had approached prime minister Narendra Modi seeking CBI probe in to the losses airlines incurs. Another allegation against the airline was leveled by Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) in October this year claiming that the airline is getting grounded aircrafts insured at a cost of $6 million in a year for last three years.

The national carries is currently under huge debt and is surviving on the Rs 30,000crore government bailout.

The union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju recently stated that the ministry would ask the national carrier to explain its financial decisions, which according to him do not make any commercial sense. Raju was referring to the sale of eight brand new Boeing 777-LRs by Air India at a throwaway price.

The government is soon coming out with the new civil aviation policy and is currently formulating the policy and holding consultations with different stake holders.