The loss making Air India has received a fresh lease of life as the Central Government liberalised and simplified the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime in a host of sectors, including Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT), civil aviation, aimed at facilitating Air India’s divestment, construction development, power exchanges, pharmaceuticals and audit firms. It is a right step in the direction. Earlier the Government was pumping money to Air India to bail out the cause of loss making airlines. The government aims to help the country attract larger FDI inflows that is expected to contribute to growth of investment, income and employment in the country. While most countries failed to keep their national airlines afloat, it is good news that Air India would continue to bear its name, despite infusion of foreign funds and of course technology. Air India is one firm that was totally made in India, and should continue to have the name across the globe. All the best to new Air India to make best out of the present make up through FDI. Badly maintained planes, lackadaisical ground staff, antiquated cabin staff who like all government servants are least bothered, pilots, many of whom, are there because they are related to a political leader. Instead of FDI, other airlines with good track record may be able to turn around this airline if they are given majority shareholding in the company. The only challenge the govt has to meet is, no lip commitments, will to move in one direction and finally the Airline should be managed by aviation professionals, not by administrators, who are not managers. Air India is 300 per cent over occupied, privatisation will have to develop Staff friendly models and that would lead to a successful venture. Otherwise, let Elephant die as a White Elephant.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)
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