National carrier Air India Tuesday reported a healthy 82 percent load factor on its domestic flights in May, even while its international operations were crippled in the month under review due to a pilots’ strike.
“Our domestic load factors have gone up from 78 percent in April to 82 percent in May. This is mainly because of good on-time performance (OTP) on major routes,” a senior Air India official on the operations arm told.
According to the official, the airline expects its market share position to improve due to high load factors in the domestic sector. However, he said that many of domestic feeder flights for international operations were hit badly.
“Our feeder flights, for example Delhi-Amritsar-London, has been hit, so have other domestic feeder flights. But we have tried to mitigate losses in these sectors as well,” the official said.
The airline had the fourth largest market share in April at 17.6 percent, preceded by SpiceJet at 17.7, Jet Airways at 21.4 percent and IndiGo at 23.8 percent.
While the data was only indicative of domestic operations, the current stir faced by the flag carrier in its international operations is also expected to have an adverse impact on the performance in May.
The domestic sector may bring in some relief for the cash-strapped airline, but its current worries about the crippled international operations remains, as an impasse between a section of the striking pilots and the management continued for the 29th day.
The airline has suffered an estimated Rs.365 crore revenue loss, which is being touted as one of the biggest suffered by the passenger carrier due to any strike.
The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), representing aviators of the erstwhile Air India, went on strike May 8 to protest the move to train pilots from pre-merger Indian Airlines on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets.
The airline expects to stabilise its international operations through the interim plan which it implemented Friday and cut its losses to less than Rs.5 crore a day from the present Rs.10 crore.
The interim plan has axed seven international destinations including Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.
“The load factors from international operations that were shifted to an interim schedule have fetched around 74 percent load factor.”