Crew shortage forces Air India to curtail US operations for two to three months: CEO

Public TV English
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NEW DELHI: The nonstop India-US connectivity has picked up further ahead of the upcoming peak summer travel season.

Meanwhile, Air India will temporarily suspend six of its 47 weekly nonstops to the United States (US) for the next two to three months due to crew shortage, Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said on Monday.

“We will be reducing the frequency of the San Francisco and Newark nonstops by three each. In the next 2-3 months, the 100 pilots and 1,400 cabin crew in training will begin flying. The temporary crew shortage being witnessed on our Boeing 777 fleet will be resolved then,” Wilson said.

In the past few weeks, several Air India nonstops have been delayed by several hours. For instance, last week saw a Chicago flight delayed by over a day and New York by over 10 hours.

With Air India reducing flights, India-US direct connectivity has taken another hit just ahead of peak travel season, something that could push fares – already at unprecedented levels – even higher.

“We are reducing frequency on routes where we can accommodate passengers on other flights. Air India was an airline that was shrinking (pre-privatisation) and is now growing fast again,” the CEO said. Wilson further said that a large number of aircraft that had been on ground for a long time are flying again.

“This has led to a temporary crew shortage, essentially cabin crew and some pilots, with the B777 being the most affected at the moment. This issue will be resolved soon. We are hiring 500 cabin crew every month. Almost 1,700 captains will come online, with less than 10 per cent (140) being expats,” Air India CEO Wilson said.

The US carriers’ plans to have nonstops between Bengaluru and San Francisco and Seattle have been shelved indefinitely. Air India is the largest operator of nonstop flights to the US. United Airlines and American Airlines have one flight each on the New York-Delhi route. Delta has not resumed flights to India after March 2020.

United has suspended its Mumbai-Newark and Delhi-San Francisco and Chicago flights. Air India operates 17 weekly nonstops to San Francisco; 14 to New York JFK; seven to Chicago; six to Newark and three to Washington.

However, Air India will be deploying narrow bodies on some Bangkok and Dubai flights instead of twin aisles for the same reason. (ANI)

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