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Air India crisis: 'Adequate steps taken by aviation ministry, says Praful Patel

May 17, 2012 - New Delhi

Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Praful Patel has refused to comment on the Air India pilots' strike, saying that adequate steps were being taken by the aviation ministry to end the impasse.

"See, there is a minister, there are people looking after these issues. It would be unfair for me to comment on anything that is going on. All I can say is that the minister and the ministry of civil aviation have taken the right approach in handling this crisis," Patel, a former civil aviation minister, told media here.

"And, I support Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh in whatever steps he has taken, or whatever steps he intends to take," he added.

Meanwhile, speaking on the ongoing strike, Kingfisher airlines owner Vijay Mallya said that there was need for the government to swiftly and amicably resolve the issue.

"You all know the condition of the aviation industry. I would not want to make any further comments on it. I would just say that all the airlines are incurring losses as of now. So I hope that the government addresses it properly," he said.

Ajit Singh had earlier said that the ministry would formulate adequate plan to combat the situation.

About 500 Air India pilots who fly international routes have been demanding that their colleagues from Indian Airlines should not be trained to fly Dreamliners, as they believe it may hurt the career prospects of original Air India staff.

Both companies were merged in 2007, but there have been problems with integration. Air India's purchase of Dreamliners was also criticised by a central auditor last year for "imposing an undue long-term financial burden".

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) had on April 25 decided to raise airport fares, including User Development Fee (UDF), by 346 percent for two years.

The newly introduced UDF at the Delhi airport seems to be upsetting many. Passengers and airlines would now have to pay 346 percent more as compared to what they paid to the airport operator-the GMR Group-along with its consortium.

As per the airports regulator order, the UDF for international travel would be rupees 845.50 for outgoing passengers travelling between 2,000 -5,000 kilometres and Rupees 699.17 for incoming ones.

For those traveling beyond 5,000 kilometres, the UDF would be rupees 1,068 for outgoing and rupees 881.10 for incoming.


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