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IA to start courier service, convert 727s into freighters



17th August, 2005: Indian Airlines is planning to foray into courier and freight services, under an attempt to tap a huge potential for such services existing in the country.

Stating this in the Rajya Sabha, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said that the carrier was also planning to convert five Boeing 727 aircraft into freight aircraft. The five 727 would be converted on a experimental basis, on the success of which, the carrier would look at converting or acquiring more aircraft for courier business.

On the proposed Initial Public Offer (IPO) of Indian Airlines, the minister said that the carrier has been advised to go ahead with the tendering process and appointment of advisors. However, the actual appointment of advisors would be done only after getting an approval from the government.

The carrier’s subsidiary, Alliance Air, was facing a shortage of 40 pilots. The shortage was due to the opening up of the aviation sector and advent of new players, which resulted in many of the national carrier’s pilots moving over to the new carriers.

The minister also said that the airline would embark on a recruitment drive to fill in the positions. 

Of the 63 pilots who had sought No Objection Certificates (NOC) to join other airlines, 59 pilots have withdrawn their requests while the remaining four also are continuing in service and are performing their duties regularly, he said. He also said that the Karnataka government has sent a proposal to Airports Authority of India to develop the existing airstrips at Mysore and Belgaum and construct new airports at Gulbarga, Hassan and Hampi.

On the restructuring of Delhi and Mumbai airports, the minister said that the Law  Ministry is vetting the documents relating to financial transactions that are to be handed to eight parties short-listed for restructuring of airports. A meeting of the empowered Group of Ministers was also slated to take place to decide on developing the two airports. 



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