Air India has a message it wants to make loud and clear: we are not on the verge of collapse. But if you’ve been reading newspapers lately in Israel, you may have been told otherwise.
In an interesting story of intrigue and what may be unfriendly competition, several Israeli media outlets recently reported that Air India was “trapped” in huge debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. Israeli passengers who were booked on Air India were advised to refund their tickets and retrieve their money.
But Air India emphatically denies it is going under. In fact, its Delhi to Tel Aviv route (which, in a diplomatic breakthrough, flies over Omani and Saudi airspace) is among its best-performing. Air India issued the following terse statement concerning the “fake” news:
Air India strongly refutes the canards being spread by a section of the media in Israel and a few web/online portals about the airline being on the verge of collapse. This is totally baseless, false and hatched to malign the image of the organisation and thwart its rising graph by vested interest.
We would like to clear the air that, contrary to these speculation, Air India is growing from strength to strength and has, in fact, been standing by passengers in distress left stranded by airlines abruptly shutting down.
It is requested that any such attempt to create confusion and tarnish the credibility of Air India be rejected outright.
Air India added that is it even thinking about increasing service to Israel from three flights per week to four.
Is EL AL Behind This?
EL AL sued the Israeli government and Air India when the new route was announced, claiming that the use of Saudi airspace placed EL AL at a competitive disadvantage. The direct flight path shaved about two hours off of flight time. EL AL serves Mumbai, but not Delhi.
EL AL Chairman Eli Defes described it like this:
It’s as if British Airways were allowed to fly a short route between London and New York while United Airlines or Delta were obligated to fly to London via Africa.
Isreal’s Supreme Court urged EL AL to drop the matter, which it did, but the issue has still not been resolved…EL AL is still flying a circuitous route to Mumbai.
Per the Economic Times, some in the media are blaming EL AL for the story. If true, that’s a pretty mean trick, even as EL AL’s anger is understandable over the unequal airspace restrictions.
Air India is not in great financial health. In fact, it is in terrible financial health. But it is the darling of the Indian Government and will not be going anywhere, anytime soon. Thus, I’d feel comfortable booking Tel Aviv to Delhi or any other flight. You concern should be rats and cockroaches, not the collapse of the carrier.