Enough is Enough – Shut Down Air India

For the sake of the country’s pride, for the sake of the money its sucking in and for the sake of being nothing but a pain in the backside, its high time for the government of India to not only shut down Air India but to also arrest all the striking employees and throw them in a cell.

From being in debts of more than 40,000 rupees to employees sponging off the resources of the airlines by assigning even their grandchildren as dependents and mooching discounted airfares to having offices across the world where hardly anyone flies, Air India and Indian Airlines combine are nothing but a disgrace to the image of India.

What the striking Air India pilots don’t mention in their litany of complaints is how at a board meeting earlier this year they vehemently opposed any curbs on their royal privileges — “passages” or free return trip tickets for their family. And even refused to accept the private airline definition of “family”.

Unlike private airlines’ employees, who have restricted passages and specific definition of family to include only immediate members such as self, spouse, dependent children and parents, Air India’s definition is far more generous.

According to Air India, an employee’s family, entitled to travel free with him/her, includes: spouse, children, step-children, parents, brothers, sisters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and even grandchildren up to 12 years.

Even those who have retired are entitled to passages. “This has led to a situation where former Air India employees, currently employed with private airlines, avail passages on Air India,” said another executive.

Read the full article : Me, my family, my son-in-law: Pilots want a freebie parivar.

Iam someone who has borne the brunt of the whimsical attitude of the airline and have sworn off flying the so called national carrier for years.  Also make it a point to educate all friends and family not to fly Air India – Indian Airlines ever.

At a time when the private airlines are providing such good service and have proved that they can do well inspite of no support from the government, its an utter waste of money to spend even a single rupee to keep the pathetic airlines running.

The simple point that Air India is monstrously in debt and that it would be ridiculous to up already high salaries now seems to be one the government is unable to make forcefully enough.

Possibly the government’s culpability in bringing Air India to this pass makes it speak softly in argument. The merger was poorly thought out; and the decision by an empowered group of ministers in UPA 1 to take on additional debt to purchase a new fleet is now being seen for the folly it was. That decision was born of the misguided belief that the Centre has a duty to “revive” Air India, a mantra that has been repeated by one civil aviation minister after another. We now, post-reshuffle, have a new minister in charge, Vayalar Ravi. The last thing that he needs is to have this albatross around our necks for the foreseeable future. The wise move for Ravi would be to acknowledge that past decisions have dug Air India into a hole of mismanagement and debt — Rs 40,000 crore deep — from which there is no escaping. Wiping out Air India’s debt would cost several times more than the Centre spends on rural health annually. This is not an expenditure that a government can justify — especially on something in which the private sector has amply demonstrated its ability to satisfy the public’s needs. Instead of throwing good money after bad, the time has come to stand up and say: yes, Air India must be shut down.

Read the full Indian Express article editorial here.

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