125The sinking feeling for the Maharaja

This year in February, the loss-making Air India, ahead of Lok Sabha elections, in an unparalleled move announced 203 promotions. This move was taken in a brazen violation of standards and a Bombay High Court (HC) order restricting the sick airline from any promotions.

In an unprecedented move, the management of the ailing Maharaja announced a phenomenal 203 promotions even while it is not being able to pay monthly salaries to its staff. The air line promoted 126 senior managers to assistant general managers (AGM), 24 AGMs to DGM, 23 managers to senior managers and 30 deputy managers to managers.

Air India is faced with cumulative debt burden of Rs 35,000 cr. The fresh Government of Narendra Modi is concerned and has to take swift actions to revive the national airline. Not even a week old, PM Narendra Modi’s new Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju indicated yesterday the new government wants to review the free passage scheme offered by cash-starved Air India to its 24,000 employees. The Government will examine matters such as the definition of a family under the scheme called ‘Passage Entitlement-Vacation Travel.’ Under this scheme, top officers like functional directors and joint managing directors are entitled to get 24 free tickets each year, while the lowest rung staffer are entitled to eight tickets annually. However, all taxes and fees have to be paid by the employees who avail such tickets.

air-indiaTo worsen the issue, Air India had come out with a circular in April saying the spouse of a deceased staffer could transfer his or her tickets to their children or step-children. It seems as per IATA resolution, it is a global practice in the aviation sector. But, in a struggling economy like ours, don’t you all feel that a decision to shower the legacy bonanza on Air India staffers is a shame on its management when the airline is saddled with whopping cumulative losses and is a classic case of shackling administration?? The loss-making airline has an army of 24,000 permanent employees, one of the highest amongst airlines worldwide when it comes to aircraft-workforce ratio.

The millions of tax payers of this country are vulnerably watching sinking PSUs126 owing to unprofessional conduct and negligence; the leader among them is the brazen Air India. Why are we tolerating the series of unabashed mistakes of this air line?  Why do certain policies never change, despite public indignation? Dear taxpayers of this country arise, question, and demand actions. It is ‘Now or Never’. We need to put an end to the misdoings of series Aviation Ministers. Let the Government not maintain a white elephant – Air India. After all it’s our (taxpayer’s) money which is going in upholding it. But, I perceive bright chances in privatization of Air India; it could possibly be one of the major disinvestment moves of the Narendra Modi government.

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