Jan 8: It isn’t yet the right time to begin the privatisation process of India’s national carrier, Air India. So believes a Parliamentary Panel in its report submitted today. Though the government has initiated the process towards strategic divestment of the airline, the new report could be seen as a new beginning for the national carrier.
Reports have said that the Parliamentary panel believes that the Centre would need to review its decision to privatize the airline. It added that the government should look at the possibility of an alternative to disinvestment.
It needs to be recalled that NITI Aayog had a few days ago stated that further financial assistance Air India was not a viable option in the bid to save the carrier. The Parliamentary panel however thought the other way around, stating that a turnaround could be looked at if the airline is given time till 2022 to come back on the revival path.
Significantly enough, the erstwhile UPA government had given the nod for a Turnaround Plan while it was in power. The plan had envisioned a bailout package of up to Rs 30,231 crore for a period of 10 years, starting in 2012 for Air India. According to the panel report, the government may evaluate the financial and performance status of Air India and take a decision accordingly after the Turnaround Plan period was over.
Coming down heavily on the Civil Aviation Ministry’s policies, the Parliamentary panel criticized the policy directions as a reason for Air India’s massive debt. It added that Air India needs to be allowed to operate as a government PSU with less government control.