Demand for Air India demerger gathers support

The demand for splitting Air India is again gathering momentum with support from trade unions, and politicians across the political spectrum. The merger which saw the domestic carrier Indian Airlines with Air India, was slammed by the committee on public undertakings (COPU) as "a marriage of incompatible parties".

According to Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, if the merger was wrong, Air India stood ruined as also Indian Airlines with the employees left to face hardships, then the civil aviation ministry and the minister were responsible.

The merger, meant to cut losses has resulted in increasing them to over Rs13,000 crore in three years, which Air India is now attempting to reduce through a 20-per cent wage cut.

However, to cap the irony, in a recent move a foreign COO for the carrier has been inducted at a salary of over Rs2 crore a year.

According to Sitaram Yechuri, chairman of the standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, the foreign COO's salary would be 10 times that of the chairman and managing director of the airline. He asked how this could be allowed.

According to analysts, if the blame for the mess has to be laid at anyone's door, it is that of the civil aviation ministry and the minister in charge.