AI to boost aircraft utilisation

New Delhi: Air India will boost utilisation rates of aircraft in its fleet in a bid to boost revenues and help with the turnaround of its finances. Government sources say that better aircraft utilisation will be a crucial component of the ailing carrier's revised turnaround strategy.

''We have a good fleet of aircraft. It is just that they are underutilised. In the turnaround plan, we will ensure that every aircraft, be it a wide-bodied or an ATR, are utilised properly and to their optimum efficiency,'' a senior civil aviation ministry official has been quoted as saying.

According to ministry officials, because Air India was operating a number of shorter routes it was registering lesser number of flying hours.

According to statistics available, the average daily flying hours of the flag carrier's A-310 and A-320 aircraft are 6.4 hours and 10.8 hours, respectively, as compared with private carriers such as Jet Airways (12.20 hours), Kingfisher (10.45 hours), SpiceJet (12 hours), GoAir (13 hours) and IndiGo (11.40 hours).

A ministerial panel (Group of Ministers), headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, is looking to boost revenues by Rs5,000 crore per annum through capacity expansion and also  reducing operating costs by Rs4,000 crore per annum, making the airline operationally profitable by 2015.

On the introduction of new routes, civil aviation minister, Vayalar Ravi said, ''We will take a decision when the opportunity comes.''

The revised restructuring proposals would come up for consideration when the GoM meets again in the middle of September.

The carrier has liabilities worth Rs67,520 crore, of which Rs21,200 crore is working capital loan, Rs22,000 crore is long-term loan on fleet acquisition, Rs4,600 crore are vendor dues and Rs20,320 crore is accumulated loss.