Panel to resolve issues between AI, Indian Airlines likely

Problems relating to disparity in wage structure and seniority among employees of Air India after its merger with erstwhile Indian Airlines are likely to be resolved by a panel chaired by a retired judge.

Civil aviation minister Valayar Ravi said in New Delhi on Friday that a suggestion that these issues be tackled in depth by a committee headed by a retired judge has been made by him during his meetings with leaders of 14 unions of the state-run carrier.

"After a two-day meeting with all the employees' unions of Air India, I have suggested the formation of a committee headed by a retired judge to resolve their issues relating to service matter," Ravi said after inaugurating the 'Centenary celebration of civil aviation in India'.

The function marked the launch of the first commercial flight in India - between Allahabad and Naini - on 18 February 1911.

The minister said the unions have agreed to cooperate with the government to bring the national carrier out of red. To questions on lack of manpower integration between the two public sector airlines even almost four years after their merger, Ravi acknowledged that there were "some problems" but said "these can be resolved through talks".

Asked about charges that Air India had given away many profitable routes, both domestic and international, to private competitors, he said it was "not the time to blame but to run the institution and get out of the situation" .

The minister said more funds were needed to bring Air India out of red but refused to disclose the amount, saying he would discuss the issue with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee before taking a decision.