To cut costs, Air India is pruning the number of its foreign and local offices and has already shut down 23 booking offices in different parts of the country, the government said on Monday. The decision to close booking offices has been taken with a view to control costs and reduce expenditure, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
The national carrier has closed down 23 booking offices within the country, including those in Darjeeling, Surat, Allahabad, Agra, Kanpur, Leh, Mysore, Udaipur, Trichur, Amristar and Dehradun.
Booking offices have been closed as most of the sales are done by agents and the number of walk-in passengers at these places is “negligible”. Besides, passengers can make bookings through Air India’s website, Mr. Sharma said. At present, there are 54 local booking offices of the carrier that are functional.
Air India has been grappling with tough financial conditions. In another written reply, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the carrier has closed, decided to close or downsize some of its overseas booking offices. “The booking offices at offline stations at Zurich, Chittagong and Vienna have been shut down in FY 2013-14 with a view to cut down cost. “So as to maximise revenue and promote code share flights, there is now only a small sales or representative set up at the airport at Zurich and the sales representative office at Vienna is operating from a small office space in a business centre,” he said.
A decision has been taken to close offices at Cairo and Tehran, he added.
Mr. Raju said that Air India is maintaining booking offices at Washington, Los Angeles and Amsterdam even though it does not operate any flights to these places. These offices are being maintained due to various reasons such as to “tap and cater to the Indian ethnic population, business travellers, tourists and also other segments having affinity between India and the respective countries”.