The government should abandon efforts to privatise national carrier Air India in the light of the collapse of India’s top private airline Jet Airways, under the burden of debt, shutting the fate of its over 20,000 employees, reports citing Air India employees union officials said.
Privatisation is not a panacea for the ills affecting airlines in the country and the collapse of Jet Airways following the shutting down of Kingfisher Airways and the near collapse of SpiceJet should be proof enough that privatisation can be a sure way to make an airline profitable or efficient, reports citing a senior Air India union official said.
The government should reconsider its plan to privatise Air India in the light of the shuttering of Jet Airways and Kingfisher and formulate alternative plans for revival of the airline, the official was quoted as saying.
The shuttering of Jet Airways that left over 20,000 employees of the grounded Jet Airways jobless and the problems that passengers are facing should be the main consideration while formulating policies with regard to stranded airlines, he said.
As many as six airlines in India have closed down in the last five years.
"First it was Kingfisher which folded up, and now it’s Jet Airways, which has stopped operations, albeit for the time being. The votaries of the privatisation, both in the government and outside, need to understand that denationalisation alone can't bring profitability and efficiency. Had it been so, the two private airlines would not have gone bust," report quoted an Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) senior official as saying.
There should be an alternative to burdening airlines with huge debt without, the union official said that the present policies of the government need to be relooked as they have only lead to a crisis in the industry and jobs of thousands of people are at stake.
"If the present crisis is allowed to continue, it will lead to unprecedented crisis in the industry leading to more and more employees being thrown out of employment. A mere glance of problems indicate that there is something seriously wrong with the policy direction," he added.
He said there is a need to rethink the 'open sky policy' that puts Indian airlines at a disadvantage. Also, there should be strict enforcement of bilaterals so as not to disadvantage domestic companies, including of Air India, he said.
Also, he said, the foremost reason for the current crisis in the aviation industry is the government's "reliance" on the private sector in achieving its ambitious Vision 2040, which has projected the country's air passenger traffic to grow to 1.1 billion per year by 2040, the union official said, "the industry is not doing well from the vision document point of view as the growth is not sustainable, healthy and even".
Before thinking of privatising Air India, he said, it must be noted that it was Air India that came to the rescue of passengers in the present crisis when Jet Airways passengers were stranded across airports globally.
"The government can't expect such a gesture from private airlines," he said.