MORE THAN a year after Air India suspended its direct flight between Chandigarh and Bangkok, the airline on Thursday made it clear that it has no plans to resume services on the route or introduce any new international flights from Chandigarh International Airport, at least till its proposed disinvestment process is complete.
“We had NOTAM issues earlier but that is not there now. The Chandigarh-Bangkok flight was not making the revenue. Chandigarh has high potential but we can revisit Chandigarh only after the completion of the disinvestment process. We will consider new international flights only after that,” said the airline’s General Manager (Commercial) Market Planning, Rambabu Ch, during a press conference in Chandigarh. He added that the process is likely to take place by July-August next year.
Last year, Air India had told the Punjab and Haryana High Court – which is monitoring the upgradation of facilities at the airport in a Public Interest Litigation, that the Chandigarh-Bangkok flight – which was started in December 2017, resulted in a loss of Rs 825.2 lakhs between December 2017 to March 2018 as the seat factor remained at 65.8 per cent. The loss was Rs 879.5 lakh between April 2018 to July 2018 with seat factor of 59.5 per cent, it told the court. The flight had been introduced keeping in view the major factor that there was no competition in the sector and the airline could have monopolised the route.
However, the airline had also expressed its inability to resume the direct flight due to its ongoing financial crisis. The airline had told the court that the decision to close the direct flight was taken when the disinvestment of Air India was also going on and the tender had been invited for finding parties willing to buy the airline. No buyer turned up and accordingly a review plan was put into motion to minimise the losses.
“Air India is in a financial crisis and cannot afford to operate on loss making routes. Every effort is being made by the Air India management to curtail the operational losses and it is continuous process. In the same effort to curtail losses, Air India has stopped Boeing 787 operation between London and Newark from November 2018,” it told the court then after which the High Court also did not push for resumption of the flight.
Following the suspension of the direct international flight, Air India had restructured its domestic flights between Chandigarh and Delhi to allow passengers from Chandigarh to connect with 25 destinations in Europe via the national capital with introduction of a new morning flight from Chandigarh.