Amid all the gloomy news emanating from the offices of Air India, there were happy tidings earlier this month.
The airline reported a dramatic rise of 6 per cent over May 2013 in its passenger load factor (PLF) - a statistic that indicates the occupancy of the company's aircraft. At 79.5 per cent, the figure bettered the PLF of rival Jet Airways (75.2 per cent) and came close to that of IndiGo (81.8 per cent).
It also more than met the target of 78 per cent set in its turnaround plan.
Recently, there was more good news. After years of negotiations, Air India signed up as the 26th member of Star Alliance, the world's largest league of airlines.
This will help the Indian company generate 3-5 per cent additional revenues, or around Rs 1,000 crore, because the agreement enables its passengers to travel seamlessly across the globe.
However, scratch the surface and Air India is still mired in trouble.
Despite the government pumping in more than a third of the over Rs 30,000 crore it had promised as equity infusion, the turnaround expected in 2018 seems a distant dream.
Some of the targets for 2013-14 fell woefully short, and its net losses for the fiscal touched Rs 5,400 crore - way above the target of Rs 3,989 crore and higher than the previous year's loss of Rs 5,198 crore.
It also missed both its operational profit and revenue targets by a long mile.
Text: Surajeet Das Gupta, Business Standard
Image courtesy: Reuters