Letters to BS: 'Painful rerun' in panel suggestions on Air India stake sale

The Air India logo is seen on the facade of its office building in Mumbai
With reference to your article, “Don’t privatise Air India, give it 5 years to revive: Parliamentary panel” (January 8); it is interesting to note the recommendation made by the Parliamentary Committee. This indeed sums up the irony of the Public Sector Undertaking situation — decisions are taken or influenced by people who neither have technical nor business experience. Neither are they exposed financially to the risk-return of the decision; all that they are, is have somebody who could get them enough votes to win elections. One big reason why Air India might never get fully privatised without any precondition is the perks enjoyed by politicians, bureaucrats, senior employees from the Air India. AI’s history is full of failed revival attempts. Good CEOs have been tried.

The current mess was caused inter alia by the merger with Indian Airlines and the big splurge in buying new aircraft. Be it customer service, human resource, cost management, revenue management, Air India has big issues. Even with new owners and management, it will take more than five years to become an airline of choice. Its big plus is its slots and flight rights, and that of being the national carrier; nothing else. If a brave private sector group is not allowed to own and run it, Air India will keep requiring banks with deep pockets and a high pain threshold, and a finance ministry that will periodically write big cheques.

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