AI at third spot in operating flights after Jet, Kingfisher

New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb 20 (PTI) Air India has operated farless number of domestic and international flights last yearthan its private competitors, with official figures showingthat its market share has dwindled to 17.1 per cent.

Air India currently stands at the fourth position interms of market share, after its private competitors JetAirways, Kingfisher and IndiGo.

These figures collated by the Directorate General ofCivil Aviation (DGCA) came against the backdrop of allegationsby unions that profitable routes of Air India have been givenaway to the benefit of private and foreign competitors.

This has also been pointed out by the ParliamentaryStanding Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and theCommittee on Public Undertakings last year, with bothobserving that Air India had been put at a disadvantageagainst private airlines on various counts, including itsdeclining route network.

Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, during his meetingswith the unions in Mumbai last week, had assured them that hewould look into the issue and take necessary measures.

While all Indian carriers jointly operated a total of5,25,504 flights on the domestic network during 2010, JetAirways and its subsidiary JetLite flew 1,42,101 flights andKingfisher Airlines operated 1,20,362 flights, leaving AI atthe third spot with only 1,01,352 flights, the DGCA figuresshowed.

Sources pointed out that there were at least 32"profitable routes" from which the Air India withdrew itsflights since late 2009 giving a distinct advantage tocompetitors, both domestic and overseas. Most of the foreignroutes were on the lucrative Gulf sector.

The routes on which the flights have either beenwithdrawn completely or temporarily were maintaining anaverage load factor of 80 per cent for Air India, and someeven clocking 100 per cent, these sources claimed.

Soon after Air India opted out of these routes, privatecarriers started operating on them, they alleged.

Of these 32 routes from which the national carrierwithdrew its services in over a year, Jet Airways wasoperating on 11 routes and Kingfisher on six, they said,adding IndiGo and SpiceJet had also launched services to thesedestinations.

Other airlines which are operating flights on thesesectors include Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, Qatar Airways,Oman Air and Bahrain Air.

While routes like Cochin-Doha, Cochin-Muscat and Cochin-Bahrain are now being operated by Jet Airways, Bangalore-Pune-Goa-Bangalore and Chennai-Coimbatore are being operated byKingfisher airlines, they said, adding, "All these sectorshave been clocking a seat factor of 80 per cent or more".

They hoped that the Civil Aviation Ministry would takecorrective measures when the summer schedule of the airlinescomes up for approval early next month.

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