Aviation sector will be hit hard
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, JAN. 1. The Ministry of Civil Aviation will seek budgetary support for the loss the Indian carriers will suffer as a result of the closure of air space over Pakistan, which will entail additional operating costs for the airlines.
It is estimated that Air India would lose about Rs. 40 crores a year, Indian Airlines about Rs. 3.4 crores. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) would lose about Rs. 5 crores as revenue it earns through landing and parking charges and also connected with overflight. In comparison, the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) would stand to lose five times more as it would have to take longer detours, the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr. Shahnawaz Hussain, said here today after launching Air India's e- marketing facility through the airline's website - www. Air India. Com.
He said talks were on with Iran to allow Indian carriers use of its airspace, as well as Iran Air to operate a flight to Delhi via Kabul, to provide the first air link with Afghanistan after the new regime took over.
The Minister said aviation security had been tightened after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in the U.S. The Central Industrial Security Force had been deployed at several airports. A number of airlines had closed down after the attacks, but it was a matter of satisfaction that Air India and Indian Airlines had survived. In fact, Air India might end this financial year with a profit, he added.
Online AI bookings
The e-marketing facility being offered by Air India allows passengers to purchase tickets through its website. Initially the facility is being offered to those who purchase their tickets in India for travel commencing from any of the airline's seven online stations in India, including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram. The facility will be extended progressively worldwide.
All that the passengers have to do is log on to the website, check the schedules to their chosen destinations, ascertain the availability of seats and fares being offered, make reservations, pay for the ticket online using their credit cards, and the tickets would be physically delivered to them within 48 hours. The credit cards will be processed through ICICI's Payment Gateway Service. The facility is available for journeys commencing after 48 hours.
An additional introductory advantage will be ``attractive fares'', free membership to ``flying returns'' flyer programme and double mileage points for the par-
ticular segment booked online.
The Government today decided to reinstate Mr. P.K. Sinha, Air India's suspended regional director, clearing him of charges of alleged financial irregularities with regard to payments made to the carrier's General Sales Agent in London. Mr. Sinha and the then Air India managing director, Mr. Michael Mascarenhas, were suspended in May, 2001, for showing `undue favours' to the GSA. Official sources said Mr. Sinha was reinstated as no corruption charges had been proved against him.
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