Air India operations slump; unions blame merger

Air India operated far less number of domestic and international flights last year than its private competitors, with official figures showing that its market share has dwindled to 17.1 per cent.

Air India currently stands at the fourth position in terms of market share, after Jet Airways, Kingfisher and IndiGo.

These figures released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) come amid allegations by unions that profitable routes of Air India have been given away to the benefit of private and foreign competitors.

This has also been pointed out by the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture and the committee on public undertakings last year, with both observing that Air India had been put at a disadvantage against private airlines on various counts, including its declining route network.

Civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi , during his meetings with the unions in Mumbai last week, had assured them that he would look into the issue and take necessary measures.

The unions feel that the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines has led to this situation. One of them said, "We raised the issue of Air India and Indian Airlines' merger, which was done only to benefit private airlines on the most profitable Middle East route.