After posting a loss of Rs 298 crore in the last quarter, Jet Airways has sought government clearance to scale down its flights to the northeastern region by about half to stem the losses.
The airline, which currently operates around 38 daily services in several northeastern destinations, has written to the Civil Aviation Ministry to allow it bring these operations down by nearly 50%, sources said, adding there has been no response from the Ministry on the matter as yet.
Operations in the northeast are guided by the government's Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) which entails that all Indian carriers fly to the northeast and other remote parts of the country, more so as a social obligation.
Recently, a panel headed by Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, reviewed and recommended the revision of RDG. The panel made it mandatory for the airlines to deploy a certain minimum percentage of their passenger carrying capacity or available seat per kilometre deployed on major trunk routes onto smaller cities and towns.
Justifying its move to approach the Ministry, a top Jet officer told PTI that the northeastern region had "a huge over-capacity and any reduction in the services there would not have any bearing on the connectivity.
"When the guidelines were first formulated in 1994, there were only 28 flights a week flying in the Northeast. Today there are 378 flights a week, which represents over 100 per cent increase in the number of flights. So, there is a huge over-capacity on these routes."
"What Jet has asked for from the government constitutes hardly a fraction of this capacity," he said, adding that "at a time when all airlines are bleeding due to flying on sectors which have less than 40% load factor, it is devoid of economic rationale to operate there".
"We waste precious commodities such as fuel and foreign exchange for aircraft, engine parts etc by flying on such sectors," the Jet officer said.
The Naresh Goyal-owned carrier has already decided to withdraw its flights to South Africa and New York (JFK), besides some short-haul flights to the Gulf as part of its consolidation plans since it reported Rs 298 crore loss in the quarter ending March 2012.
Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines and Air India have also curtailed flights, with the former now operating only 16 aircraft in place of 64 it originally had. The national carrier is also operating 38 out of 45 of its international long-haul services due to the ongoing pilots' strike.
At the time of internal unrest in Egypt, Libya and Syria and also after the tsunami in Japan, it was only Air India which had come to the rescue of the government in evacuating the stranded citizens.