NEWS AIR INDIA SALE
NEW DELHI: The story of Air India and Air India Express is essentially the story of how politicians and bureaucrats mess up with systems in India, indulge in outright loot of public money, and fool the nation. At the height of a loss-making indulgence lasting decades, AI and AIE are today left with a total loss of over Rs 60,000crore.
Faced with the grim prospect of closing down the operations, the Union Government has decided lately to sell the two flag-carriers – inviting bids to sell 100 per cent stakes in AI and AIE, and also 50 per cent stakes in ground operations arm, the joint venture AI-SATS. The national carrier has over 120 aircraft.
The UPA periods when the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) handled the Civil Aviation Ministry was, in specific, a period of total disaster, indulgence by ministers to help private airlines at the cost of the national carriers, and make hefty money for themselves. One minister, who was close to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was the principal culprit for the total messing up of these two entities, and the loot of the season was unparalleled, as per inside information.
The CAG had made out a clear case against a former minster in the way the national carrier was used for loot, but the Modi government has not taken the matter forward, and slow-paced follow-up action.
The Modi government is now taking steps to sell both Air India and Air India Express to private parties, as the government can no longer bear the burden of huge losses. Employees unions, which were a party to the total messing up of the national carriers, are opposed to sale as they fear they would lose the whole lot of privileges they enjoy now. Air India has about 14,000 employees.
The earlier plan of the government, which made a similar attempt a while ago but could not carry it through, was to sell 76 per cent of the stakes of AI and AIE. Air India Express has a debt of Rs 17,000crore. –IHN-NN