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Maldives Debt Crisis: Navigating Economic Challenges Without Bankruptcy

Maldives

Maldives Debt Crisis: Navigating Economic Challenges Without Bankruptcy

Male is highly indebted, with external debt reaching around USD 4.038 billion and internal debt almost equaling the amount, despite the Maldives not going bankrupt as media headlines would have us believe. A debt crisis is expected in 2026. Official estimates place the gross national product of the Maldives, headed by Mohammed Muizzu, at USD 5.6 billion. The Chinese debt of USD 1.3 billion, with sovereign bonds expiring in 2026, accounts for over 30% of the country’s external debt, despite Muizzu’s overt anti-India position, and he requests debt relief from his close ally Xi Jinping and Islamic emirates in the Middle East. Muizzu asked for financial assistance from countries like China and Turkey, but while the island nation struggles with a severe economic crisis, no assistance appears to be forthcoming.

Even though it usually takes two days for the Chinese surveillance ship Xiang Yang Hong 03 to turn around and head for its home port Sanya, it has been parked at the Maldivian port for ten days after arriving at Male seaport on February 8 for an operational turnaround. For the record, the Chinese surveillance ship was only permitted to access the Male port for out-of-port transfers (OTR) and was not permitted to carry out any surveys or mapping of the ocean floor in the Maldives’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Modi administration is in a wait-and-see posture but is fully equipped to assist the Maldives in the event of a humanitarian crisis, even though India is anticipated to replace the military crew of one ALH helicopter flying the Maldivian flag by the end of this month or early in March.

Rather than become agitated over Muizzu’s anti-India stance to save his political career, the Modi administration has approved the Indian Navy’s expansion of the airstrip at Agatti Islands, which are adjacent to Lakshadweep, and Minicoy Islands, with the approval of a new air base for Minicoy Islands. On March 4–5 in Kochi, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh will dedicate the first squadron of MH-60 R Sikorsky helicopters. He will then board India’s two aircraft carrier strike groups and go to Minicoy, Maldives, to commission INS Jatayu, a new facility.

Also Read: Paytm Shares Surge 5% Post Axis Bank Deal, New RBI Deadline

Although Muizzu’s anti-Indian political posturing is directed towards the April Majlis elections, public opinion of China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) for Maldivian infrastructure development is, at best, ambivalent. Following their high-interest loans from Chinese EXIM banks, some nations, including Pakistan, Kenya, and Tanzania, are struggling under the weight of their BRI debt.

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Air India Express Takes Action Amid Ongoing Flight Cancellations, Assures Efforts to Alleviate Crisis

Air India

Air India Express Takes Action Amid Ongoing Flight Cancellations, Assures Efforts to Alleviate Crisis

A new statement from Air India Express stated that it was working to alleviate the problem, but the airline was still reeling from 24 hours of flight cancellations. On Wednesday, the airline terminated the contracts of some senior cabin crew members who had “reported sick” the day before. The number of workers who received notice of termination from the airlines is not yet known; however, news outlet PTI stated that at least 25 senior crew members were let go from the company. Nevertheless, several media outlets have reported that there might be up to 30 staff let go. The airline said in a letter of termination that it had received from one of its workers that a significant portion of its personnel had called in ill at the last minute. The letter stated, “This clearly points to a pre-meditated and concerted abstention from work without any justification.”

Air India Express also said, per the report, that the crew members’ actions led to the cancellation of several flights, which had an impact on the airline’s schedule and inconvenienced passengers. As a result, it immediately ended the involved employees’ contracts. “Your act is not only subversive of public interest but has also caused embarrassment, severe reputational damage, and serious monetary loss to the company,” the corporation stated in the letter terminating the employees.

AIR INDIA EXPRESS TO OPERATE 292 FLIGHTS TODAY

A representative for Air India Express said that despite the continuous interruptions to the airline’s flight operations, 292 flights would be operated on Thursday with assistance from Air India; 74 flights have been canceled. “Air India Express is doing everything within our power to minimize the disruption this unforeseen circumstance has caused to our guests.” Today, there will be 292 flights that we run. The representative stated, “We have mobilized all available resources, and Air India will help us by running on 20 of our routes.

Also Read: Air India Express Crisis: Mass Sick Leaves Lead to 70 Flight Cancellations

OVER 100 EMPLOYEES REPORTED SICK LAST MINUTE

Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh revealed in a statement on Wednesday that the airline will be cutting back on flights over the next few days as a result of a considerable number of cabin crew members reporting unwell right before their planned shifts. The airline has already canceled over 90 flights.

“More than 100 of our coworkers in the cabin crew have abruptly reported sick before their scheduled flight duties, seriously interfering with our business operations. In a 350-word statement, the CEO stated that “the impact was disproportionate, disrupting over 90 flights even though other colleagues reported for duty because this action was mostly by colleagues assigned L1 roles.”

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Air India Express Crisis: Mass Sick Leaves Lead to 70 Flight Cancellations

Air India Express

Air India Express Crisis: Mass Sick Leaves Lead to 70 Flight Cancellations

Air India Express crisis: According to Air India Express, a portion of its cabin crew reported being unwell, forcing the airline to cancel certain flights. “A section of our cabin crew has reported sick at the last minute, starting last night, resulting in flight delays and cancellations,” an Air India Express official stated, as cited by the news agency. Our staff is aggressively resolving this problem to minimize any difficulty this may give to our visitors, even as we are interacting with the crew to learn the causes of these incidents.

Air India Express apologizes to travelers

The representative went on, “We want to emphasize that this does not represent the kind of service we aim to give and that we sincerely apologize to our visitors for this unplanned disturbance. Refunds in full or free rescheduling to another date are provided to guests who are affected by cancellations. It is required of our guests that, before leaving for the airport, they check to see whether their flight is disrupted. This comes after a union that represents a portion of the cabin crew at Air India Express said last month that the airline is being mishandled and that employees are not treated equally. The mishandling of the events, according to the Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU), has also impacted staff morale.

Also Read: Passengers complain about Air India Express cancellations.

On social media, a few travelers expressed their displeasure at the unexpected flight cancellations. Air India Express responded to a passenger’s post on X (previously Twitter) on a canceled flight by stating that it was canceled “due to operational reasons.”. “As part of our service recovery process, you can either opt to reschedule the flight within the next 7 days or request a full refund through our chatbot, Tia…” the airline stated.

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Bank Employees Anticipate 5-Day Work Week as Key Approval Remains Pending

Bank

Bank Employees Anticipate 5-Day Work Week as Key Approval Remains Pending

Bank workers’ demands for a 5-day workweek are expected to be met shortly because the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and employee unions have already inked an agreement on the subject. The bank personnel anticipate receiving government clearance later in 2024; as of right now, only that is pending. The United Forum of Bank Unions and other bank employee unions have long advocated for a five-day workweek that excludes Saturdays. They guarantee that this won’t result in fewer hours spent providing customer service. A memorandum of understanding was subsequently signed in December 2023 between bank unions and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), which comprises both government-run and private institutions. A proposal for a 5-day workweek was included in this agreement, pending government approval.

The IBA and bank unions then signed the 9th Joint Note on March 8, 2024. The shift to a 5-day workweek with Saturdays and Sundays off was stated in the Joint Note, which was endorsed by the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation and the IBA. The government has the last say, even though the IBA and bank unions have reached an agreement. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which controls interbank transactions and banking hours, would also be consulted on the plan. The administration hasn’t set a formal timeframe for that. A few bank employees, however, said that they anticipate receiving the government’s warning by the end of this year or the beginning of 2025.

Also Read: Raymond reappoints Gautam Hari Singhania as MD for another five years

Saturdays will be recognized as official holidays under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act if they are authorized. It is stated that should the 5-day work week be adopted, the government will publish revised working hours that will extend the workday by forty minutes, from 9:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Currently, the second and fourth Saturdays are closed for bank branches. Since 2015, bank unions have called for annual leave that includes all Saturdays and Sundays. In accordance with the terms of the 10th Bipartite Settlement, which was signed in 2015, the government, RBI, and IBA decided to make the second and fourth Saturdays holidays.

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