The privatization of Air India has always been a speculative thing, and all the governments that had been in power were always in two minds about going ahead with this plan. The health of Air India has been running bad for a long time as it is facing crisis right from the financial crunch, operational issues, and management problems. The government-owned air carrier was struggling to run the show smoothly, and there was pressure mounting to rectify its issues. Earlier, too, the plans of its disinvestment came up, but it was deferred due to some reason or the other.
However, it seems that this time, the NDA 2.0 government has made up its mind to go ahead with the plan of privatizing Air India. The ailing airline is still supported by the government, but there has been no improvement in its condition. The news of privatization of Air India picked up flames when union civil aviation minister of India Hardeep Singh Puri stated that the process of Air India’s privatization is in full swing. He also stated that the entire process might be completed in months coming ahead.
He also added that the disinvestment of Air India was in the wider interest of the Indian aviation sector in order to keep the growth pace. The aviation minister quoted that the entire process of privatizing the airline shall be completed in the coming months while visiting the University of Birmingham to give an India Institute Annual Lecture on teachings of Guru Nanak. He also stated that this measure should benefit the Indian aviation sector, and the government should not run the business of airlines. He also emphasized that the civil aviation sector shall be the key driver of India’s economic growth in the coming decade as foreign investors shall join the boom.
The civil aviation minister is also hoping that after this process is completed, India, which is the third-largest domestic civil aviation market, may become the third-largest overall. At the rate in which we are moving ahead shall lead to an increase in global traffic.
However, there are contradictions in the Air India management as there is a smoke of opposition flying there against the privatization move. There Air India management and the trade unions met to discuss the proposed privatization move, which they have been opposing for a long time. They termed that this process could spell doom for the airline, and it will have disastrous consequences. It included the meeting of pilots, engineers, and officers to discuss the whole issue.
According to the trade union, the process of privatization might lead to massive job losses in the company. Air India’s largest union, Air India Employees Union (ACEU) in its executive committee meeting, decided to launch a united stir against this privatization bid, which did not succeed twice in the past. This ongoing tussle might create a problem for the process of disinvestment of Air India. Though civil aviation ministry is claiming to take this step in wider interest of India’s aviation sector but it also has to look at easing the agitation of Air India’s employees and take care of their interest as well.