AI resumes operations to Tokyo

New Delhi: In a bid to restore normalcy in its curtailed international schedule, Air India has resumed operations to Tokyo via Shanghai and plans to launch flights to Hong Kong, which were stopped due to the pilots` strike that entered the 50th day today.

As the pilots continued their hunger strike for the third day in Delhi and Mumbai to focus on their demands relating to career progression, Air India officials said bookings for Hong Kong were already on and the flights would begin on July seven. Hong Kong is likely to be connected by narrow-body Airbus A-319s.

Ignoring the strike by about 400 pilots, the airline is going ahead with plans to start a new flight to Kuala Lumpur and resume Seoul-Osaka operations in August and fly to Australia by September end, the officials said, adding that the process to recruit more pilots was already on. Destinations like New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt were also being served by the airline as part of the curtailed schedule, they said.

"We will keep adding to our operations as we get more pilots. We can`t be sitting idle because of the strike. We have cut back our global operations but have been continuing them reliably. We will continue to add step by step to restore our network and expand," the officials said. Air India`s entire international network of 27 stations would not only be fully restored, but expanded too, they said.

They blamed the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), that has been leading the ongoing agitation, for threatening to strike five times in the last nine months before actually launching their action and said "unlike in other industries, a strike threat itself results in a dip in revenue earnings as passengers go away."