Is the civil aviation minister complaining?

Air India losses due to billboards


Adve Srinivasa Bhat | August 7, 2014

Two reports in 42 days in two newspapers belonging to the same group haven’t helped the civil aviation ministry dismantle the billboards that are obstructing Air India’s Boeing 777 long-haul flights take off from Mumbai airport without huge losses.

On June 26 the Hindustan Times put out a bizarre story – of Air India losing Rs 100 crore annually on its flights to Newark, New Jersey and New York. The cause; sky high billboards in the vicinity of Mumbai airport which the Boeing 777 can’t beat without a reduction in the overall weight! The report makes the readers believe; the loss is not because of the ingenious method thought out by the airline – of flying about 80 seats empty, for reducing the weight, instead of simply knocking off the billboards. On the August 5, a report on the website of the Mint newspaper ( replays the nauseating issue except for changing the number of empty seats that help reduce the weight to ‘fifty one’ and the loss up by Rs 20 crore – at Rs 10 crore per month. It looks Air India believes in weeping out to the media to settle its problems than by taking rightful action.
Consider the depth of helplessness. As is typical of the media, the report quotes a senior official – unwilling to be named, saying, “We have done everything possible to make them (Mumbai municipality) see the reason. There were initially five billboards, which were obstructing the flight path. After persistent efforts, four were removed recently. However, another two have come up, which means the problem stands where it was.”

And consider this: the official further says, “We will write to the municipal authorities and the state government. We may have no option but to withdraw the flight if nothing works,”

And consider the height of helplessness. The article in the quotes the minister: “…That’s costing Rs10 crore a month in lost revenue, India’s junior aviation minister G.M. Siddeshwara told parliament on Monday.” Is the minister complaining?

Where does the buck stop? I wonder how a company with a gang of top management ever coached by the ministry which now has two ministers can surmount the mountain of loss it is sitting on – if it would only cry over the kind of silly nuisance – this time caused by – five (now three) billboards!



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