• Air India flying high on State Assembly elections

    The Assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry are helping Air India in its bid to become profitable, giving it a financial bonanza, albeit one underwritten by the taxpayer.

    The airline is expected to rake in about ?23 crore for the 32 special charters that it is operating to transport security forces from one corner of the country to another to ensure that the election process passes off peacefully.

    Air India has already flown 32 special charters and is likely to operate three more till May 16 when votes are cast in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, ending the poll process in these States and Union Territory.

    The airline has deployed its Airbus A-320 aircraft for these charters flights. Sources told BusinessLine that the aircraft were chartered only for a particular flight between various cities from which the forces need to move. “No airline will agree to keep the aircraft out of commercial service for the entire duration of the elections,” a senior official said.

    The Election Commission has deployed over 32,000 personnel from Central police forces in Tamil Nadu, while 12,000 will be deployed in Kerala for the polling on May 16.

    The majority of the forces were airlifted from Kolkata to the two States after being deployed in West Bengal and Assam. Nearly 80,000 CPF were deployed in West Bengal.

    The process of electing State Assemblies started in March when the Election Commission announced that Tamil Nadu and Kerala as also Puducherry will go to polls on May 16. It also announced that West Bengal would have a six-phase poll starting on April 4 and ending on May 5, while Assam would have a two-phase poll on April 4 and 11. Counting of votes will take place on May 19. Brooks Orpik USA Womens Jersey

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