Turnaround strategy for Air India soon: Government

August 12th, 2011 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) The government will soon spell out a comprehensive turnaround plan for flag carrier Air India, which is burdened with a cumulative loss of Rs.22,165 crore and struggling to even pay wages to employees, parliament was informed Friday.

“There are two plans under consideration — one is the turnaround plan and the other is a financial restructuring plan which is being considered by a group of ministers,” said Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanaswamy.

“There will be a rationalisation of loss-making routes, rescheduling of aircraft, return of leased aircraft, rationalisation of manpower and a reduction in contractual employment,” the minister told the Lok Sabha.

“A tournaround committee will also be formed, which will include senior management and union representatives,” he said in the presence of Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi in the lower house.

He said while the cumulative losses of the carrier amounted to Rs.22,165 crore, the airline was also burdened with a debt of Rs.22,000 crore, which was borrowed to buy the new aircraft.

Narayanaswamy was replying to a calling attention motion called by five members of the opposition on the situation arising out of dwindling passenger share of Air India, poor financial health and delayed payment of wages to employees.

The motion was called by Gurudas Dasgupta of Communist Party of India and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Murli Manohar Joshi, former aviation minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Bhola Singh and Ramesh Bais.

The members, led by Dasgupta, earlier said it was shameful that in a matter of just four years the domestic operations of the flag carrier — in the hands of Indian Airlines at that time but now merged into Air India — had also started making losses.

They also came down heavily on chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav, questioned his very appointment, while demanding to know the rationale behind the decision taken a few years ago to acquire as many as 111 new aircraft.

“More the purchase, more the booty. That is the perception,” Dasgupta said, and wondered why the government had surrendered a host of bilateral flying rights to carriers of other countries. “Air India is being looted by its guardians.”

The members also alleged that as opposed to 12-13 hours of average flying time per aircraft of other carriers, that of Air India was a mere 8 hours, and that was the main reason for the operational losses of the carrier.

Narayanaswamy sought to clarify that the flying hours were 10.55 on international operations and 8-9.5 hours on the domestic sector, which was just lower than that of Kingfisher at 10:45 hours. IndiGo logs 11:40 hours and SpiceJet 12:05 hours.

The minister made no mention of the decision taken to replace Jadhav.

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