Former Director at Indian Airlines
These days it has become a fashion to yell asking for shutting down National career Air India. Some with vested interest, while majority others without any rationale. But the point is do we need a National Airline? Do many countries in the world have national airline? 'Yes'
Countries like France, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, China, to name a few, have their national airlines They not only take pride in them, they also underwrite some of their some of their expenses.
These countries entrusts the management of the airlines to the professional managers making them fully accountable. But in the process of running the airlines there is absolutely no interference from the government
Well, in response, one can consciously say that in a huge country like ours there certainly need for National Airline.
1.There are many inaccessible areas in the country, connectivity to these places is provided only by the national airline Places like Lakhimpur, Lingpui, Lakshadeep, Ladakh, to name a few, are connected by only the national airline. Argument given by the private careers
for not providing adequate connectivity is that they are not economically viable . Their operations cover only the profitable routes.
2.In the event of national calamity , it is the national airline which is made to press their services for the rescue mission irrespective of cost involved and without any compensation whatsoever in the garb of national interest.
3. In case of emergency, while mass movement troops are needed, services of national career is requisitioned at once throwing the entire schedule out of gear inviting severe criticism from the Public for no fault of the airline .Hundreds of crores of rupees is lost by the airline for which no one cares. The national career is aptly called second line of defence. And so does it carry the financial burden
4. Traditionally the Heads of state, while travel abroad, the aircraft from the national airline is always put into services. Besides the security reason, the national pride is involved and what about the crores of rupees losses because of upsetting of the schedule?
5. Evacuation and rescue role has been played by the national airline ever since it came into existence. In the recent past evacuation of stranded Indians from trouble torn Libya should be fresh in everybody's mind. The other day when cloudburst played havoc with Ladakh, it was the national career who rescued people from the devastated area. These tough operations are carried out at a very high risk and cost.Here comes the answer from as to what ails our national airline-Air- India?
There is constant interference from the Government in every aspect of its functioning. Be it flight scheduling, route planning, price fixing, appointment of manpower and what not. The profit making route is gifted away to the private careers by the management obviously at the behest of the political bosses. There is no continuity of the CEOs who are political appointees from primarily the ' yes minister 'IAS cadre who belong to none; no department, no state, no organization but only to their cadre.
The immediate cause of Air-India's mess is the senseless merger of two wings of the national career-erstwhile Indian Airline and Air India.
Earlier committees headed by prominent personalities like Russi Mddy, Wadhwar, were against outright merger and they recommended for a Holding Company as apex body to bring about synergies between the two airlines and over see the their functioning. Only to save the private airlines who were reeling under heavy losses in the face of steep competition under the pressure from the vested political lobby the government merged the two wings of the national airlines without studying the implications thereby causing colossal losses to the national exchequer.
Now the only way out of the impasse is to demerge the airline thereby restores the two earlier airlines-Indian AIRLINES and Air India- or give in to the legitimate demand- equal pay for for the same job of ICPA gracefully thereby relieve the travelling of their nightmare and restore the pride of the national airline.