Air India will have to be shut if not privatised

Loss-making Air India will have to be closed if not privatised, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed Rajya Sabha and said the government is committed to secure a favourable deal for all employees of the state-owned carrier.

The government is in the process of finalising invitation of bids, he said, adding interests of employees of the state-owned carrier Air India would be protected and there would be no job loss till its privatisation.

“... The process of disinvestment is underway. The issue of getting bids will arise only after we complete the processing. So far, the alternative mechanism, under the chairmanship of the Home Minister, has been made,” he said.

Talking about employees’ concern, he said, “Issues being related to current employees, their health cover, how many would remain and what would happen, we are committed to secure a favourable deal for all employees.”

Puri said there is a decline in global freight traffic but there might not be any impact in India.

“If you look at the Indian scenario, I think that transportation by air is taking off and I don’t see too much of a decline there.”

The minister highlighted that earlier it used to take 116 hours to import a particular product and now it has come down to 39 hours.

On November 17, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the government is looking to wrap up the sale of state-run companies Air India by March 2020. Earlier, the plan to sell Air India did not go through for lack of investors and the lukewarm response to its sale. The ailing national carrier has a debt of around Rs.58,000 crore. 

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