To tighten the purse strings further, national carrier Air India has barred its officials from using luxury cabs while travelling within the country and asked them to put up only in crew hotels.
In a strongly-worded circular to “all concerned” on Saturday last, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani warned the officials of serious action in case of any violation of his instructions on austerity measures.
“I have been repeatedly emphasising on economy, curbing of wasteful expenditure and maintaining immaculate conduct and behaviour,” he said.
Recalling that several instructions regarding official travel have been issued in the past, Lohani said, “Full time taxi shall not be hired for any officer (except CMD) while travelling in an overseas country.”
“If any officer has to cover many points in a day that otherwise would be uncomfortable, to cover by point-to-point taxies, written prior approval need to be taken,” according to the circular.
The circular came soon after the PMO asked the airline to improve its performance on all fronts during the first official review late last month.
According to the circular, taxies hired for domestic travel should not be luxury vehicles while “crew hotels being fairly reasonable, officials shall invariably stay in the hotels only during official travel both within India and overseas.”
However, at places where crew hotels are not available, the officials should be “judicious” in booking a reasonably priced hotel, the Air India top boss said in the circular.
“Entertainment is definitely not for entertaining family and friends. It should be for strictly for official purposes and done judiciously. The official should maintain a record of who was entertained and in case of excessive expenditure, this record may be called for scrutiny,” it said.
The airline’s director-finance has been asked by Lohani to keep a tab on such expenses and bring any violation in this regard to his notice.
“There is also need for all officials to display exemplary conduct and behaviour at all times, any violation of these instructions at any level would be viewed seriously,” the Air India CMD said.
The airline is estimated to have posted an operating profit of Rs 8 crore in 2015-16.
It ran up losses to the tune of Rs 5,859.91 crore in 2014-15. The improvement is anticipated mainly on account of a steep fall in the jet fuel price, which accounts for 40 per cent of an airline’s operating expenses.
In 2012, the government had extended a Rs 30,231 crore lifeline to Air India under a turnaround plan stretching over a period of nine years to keep it afloat.