Reacting to Cabinet’s decision to clear disinvestment of the beleaguered national airline Air India, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju while talking to India Today on Thursday said it was a much-needed move. The 66-year-old leader added that it wasn’t an easy decision, but there was no other option left since the government wanted it to become a great airline.
“Air India which has failed to take off amid stiff competition from other airlines in the country, can still contribute a lot to the Indian economy and the government wants it to survive,” said Raju. Later in the day, while talking to CNBC TV18, Raju said he wants Air India to be a vibrant airline and all the speculations around it should end. He said everyone’s opinion including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will be taken into consideration before the privatisation of the airline. Raju added that CCEA took the decision of privatising Air India in order to make it economically viable. Even though the government has decided to sell the airline, there is still a lot of uncertainty around the buyer.
So far, names of Indigo, SpiceJet and Tata have come up, but no formal communication was made by them, reported Reuters. While speaking to CNBC TV18, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha said several companies have approached informally for buying Air India. He said that both domestic, as well as international airlines, have shown interest, but added that no formal communication was made by Tata companies.
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) June 29, 2017
The decision to sell Air India was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to fourth tranche recommendations of NITI Aayog on strategic disinvestment of CPSE (strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries) based on the recommendations of Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment (CGD),” he said.
Meanwhile, Air India has warned its employees to not speak against the airline on social media platforms. “It is unacceptable that a person who is availing post-retirement facilities like passage, medical etc from Air India talks against the company. Retired personnel who make such negative comments with the intention of tarnishing the image of the company will themselves be responsible for cessation of their post-retirement facilities,” according to an internal order by AI issued on June 21 with the approval of Chairman and Managing Director, Air India, Ashwani Lohani.