Indian airlines to hike airfares this summer

India’s national carriers may hike airfare during summer due to high crude oil prices. (FILE)

India’s national carriers may hike airfares during summer due to high crude oil prices, a senior official said in Dubai on Monday.

Aravind Jadhav, Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, said the airfare during summer will be impacted by the high jet fuel price and airline is following the market trend and will pass on the increased fuel cost to customers.

He said the 10 kg reduction in baggage allowance during the peak season is due to market situation and safety and security concerns.

Speaking at a press conference in Dubai on Monday, he said Dubai would now serve as a hub for Air India Express (AIE), a subsidiary of Air India, in order to address the frequent flight delays and service disruption problems.

Air India Express, which started operations in April 2005, has been plagued by frequent flight delays and service disruptions.

“Dubai would also become a base for stationing pilots, cabin crew and other personnel needed for stepping up flight operations. More flights from Dubai would be planned with the objective of providing connecting flights from India to the Gulf and Europe,” he added.

By 2015, Air India Express plans to have a fleet size of over 35 aircraft with a mix of narrow body and wide body aircraft.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Vayalar Ravi, India’s Minister for Civil Aviation; Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qassemi, Chairman of Sharjah Tourism and Trade Authority; Yousuf Ali MA, Independent Director of Air India; MK Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE; and Aravind Jadhav, Chairman and Managing Director of Air India.

The new hub would give flexibility and options as more pilots, cabin crew, maintenance staff would be positioned here, he said, adding that most of the operations - such as maintenance, catering and ground handling capacities - in Dubai would be outsourced as part of long-term plan.

Ravi said the two aircraft positioned in Dubai for smooth flight operations have helped reduce the number of flight cancellations and delays. And for the forthcoming winter schedule, two more aircraft will be leased this year, while two more are expected to join the fleet in 2012.

AIE recently shifted its headquarters and maintenance facility to Kerala as airline’s majority of passengers are Gulf-based non-resident Keralites. 
Mangalore crash compensation

An Air India Express flight crashed in Mangalore, India, last year killing more than 150 people.

Airline officials said that a board meeting was held in Dubai and made several announcements, including speedy compensation disbursal to the families of crash victims. Half of the victims’ families have yet to get compensation as only 54 cases have been settled with payments ranging from Rs2.5 million to Rs4 million.

Some of the victims’ families went to the courts to get their compensation.

The minister was, however, tight lipped and refused to give a time frame on the compensation issue.

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