CITU CONDEMNS RETROGRADE MOVE OF THE BJP GOVT TO PRIVATISE THE NATIONAL CARRIER –THE AIR INDIA

31st May 2017

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces the retrograde move of the BJP Govt at the centre to privatise the National Carrier-the Air India Ltd.

Following comments of the Finance Minister justifying privatization of Air India as published in the media, a few days back, the NITI AAYOG missed no time in recommending outright privatization of Air India with a clean slate, i.e., by writing off Rs 30000 crore debt burden.

This dubious exercise of selling out the National Carrier is being justified on the ground that Air India is loss making entity and privatization is needed to save public money. The decision has been taken at a point of time when Air India, after prolonged losses since 2008, has just started achieving operating profit of Rs 105 crore from the year 2015-16 and for 2016-17, estimated operating profit is going to be around Rs 300 crore. And, in reality the accumulated loss of Air India has been due to its huge debt burden; rather the burden of debt servicing is the main component of Air India’s accumulated loss and so far operational efficiency is concerned, Air India did indeed make a marked improvement by making operating profit since 2015-16 and by reducing accumulated loss since 2008, by 34.5% in the same year. And despite continuing loss, the Air India never defaulted payment of bank dues unlike the private corporate bosses of the present Govt at the centre.

The Air India which has been a profit making company till 2007 had been pushed to loss and debt- burdened by the bungling and disastrous experiments by successive Govts at the centre on the National Carrier Company’s organizational structure. For this, the Company management cannot be held responsible.

And now, after making substantial capital investment in Air India from national exchequer, infusion of Equity of Rs 24723.74 crore through budgetary support, procurement 23 new aircrafts with another 7 aircrafts being on the way of receipt, which through concerted effort of the Air India collective, has brought Air India to operating profit covering up Rs 2636.18 crore of operating loss previous year, the Govt of the day is actively processing handing over the National Carrier to private sector. And the offer for outright privatization of Air India is being made with a bonus to the prospective private buyer,--the writing off of Rs 30000 crore debt burden. Altogether, privatization of Air India is going to be bonanza of Rs 50,000 crore plus to the prospective private buyer, if the latest budgetary support and written off debt liability are taken together. Had the same magnanimity of writing off debt been offered to Air India, it could very well eliminate its huge accumulated losses substantially.

Therefore the privatization of Air India is not for saving public money but for frittering away national asset and exchequer for the benefit of private corporate and private airlines, both domestic and foreign. This is an exercise with a dubious intent, totally against the national interest. CITU condemns the move of the BJP Govt to privatise Air India and calls upon the trade union movement and working people to oppose and resist such move in order to defend the national interest.

Tapan Sen
General Secretary

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