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Right & Left Unions On Same Page, Oppose Air India Disinvestment

The BMS said it would oppose any suggestion related to disinvestment by the think-tank to the government.

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Think-tank NITI Aayog has suggested that the government strategically start disinvesting from Air India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/AirIndia/photos/a.251471918328017.1073741827.251462618328947/674035822738289/?type=1&amp;theater">@AirIndia</a>)

The trade unions of both the right and the left wing have categorically opposed the NITI Aayog’s suggestion that the NDA government strategically disinvest from India Air, the country’s airline business.

While the Centre for Indian Trade Union on Wednesday termed the government's proposal to privatise Air India an “exercise with a dubious intent” to “fritter away a national asset” to benefit private airlines, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the trade union affiliated to the RSS has "warned" the RSS of "major confrontation" if the NDA-government decides to go ahead with the disinvestment.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had recently favoured disinvestment of the loss-making flag carrier, saying the airline's market share is just around 14 percent whereas the debt burden was Rs 50,000 crore.

He had also said that the taxpayer's money could be better utilised, such as for promoting education rather than in keeping the airline afloat.

Following this, the Civil Aviation Ministry on Wednesday said it has received recommendations from the NITI Aayog and is looking at all possible alternatives to make Air India viable.

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We have asked the government to stop such types of activities, initiatives of NITI Aayog, otherwise in the coming days there will be a major confrontation with all stakeholders.
Virjesh Updadhaya, General Secretary, BMS to NDTV

He added that the BMS would oppose any suggestion related to disinvestment by the think-tank to the government.

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The privatisation of Air India is not for saving public money but for frittering away a national asset and exchequer for the benefit of private corporate and private airlines, both domestic and foreign. This is an exercise with dubious intent, totally against the national interest.
Statement by Centre for Indian Trade Union
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Air India is surviving on a Rs 30,000 crore bail-out package, spread over 10 years, announced by the Manmohan Singh government in 2012.

In 2015-16, the airline posted operational profit of Rs 105 crore on account of low fuel prices and increased passenger numbers.

According to CITU, Air India has accumulated such a huge loss due to the burden of debt servicing.

It also said that the successive governments at the Centre, and not the airline's management, were to be blamed for the financial mess of Air India.

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The planning commission replacement had earlier suggested that the government could write off 50 percent of its liabilities and transfer the remaining liabilities if it finds a private buyer.

At the moment we are considering all options. Things can’t continue the way they are, we cannot afford to. The Maharaja, which had resplendent days, is now impoverished.
Ashok Gajapathy Raju, Civil Aviation Minister

‪‪ The NDA government has blamed the 10-year-UPA government for the "financial mess” that Air India is in.

The CBI has registered three FIRs and a preliminary enquiry to go into the controversial decisions made by the erstwhile UPA government with regard to the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, purchase of 111 aircraft and surrendering of profitable routes to favour private airlines.

(With inputs from PTI, NDTV)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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