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Move to privatise Air India ‘dubious’, says CITU

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on May 31, 2017

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The reported move by the NDA government to privatise Air India at a time when it has started making operating profits is “dubious” and will be opposed, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has said.

In a statement, CITU questioned why the Centre, after making substantial capital investment in Air India from the national exchequer, infusion of equity of Rs 24,723.74 crore through budgetary support, procurement of 23 new aircraft, with another seven being on the way of receipt was “actively processing handing it over to the private sector”, adding that privatisation of Air India would be a bonanza of Rs 50,000 crore plus to the prospective private buyer.

“Had the same magnanimity of writing off debt been offered to Air India, it could very well eliminate its huge accumulated losses substantially,” Sen said in a statement.

Contesting the Centre’s claim that Air India was a loss-making entity and privatisation was needed to “save public money,” CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen said: “After prolonged losses since 2008, Air India has started achieving operating profit of Rs 105 crore since 2015-16 and for 2016-17, the estimated operating profit is going to be around Rs 300 crore.”

While noting that NITI Aayog “missed no time in recommending outright privatisation of Air India with a clean slate, i.e., by writing off Rs 30,000 crore debt burden”, said despite continuing losses, the national carrier “never defaulted in payment of bank dues unlike the private corporate bosses .”

Sen said Air India had been a profit-making company till 2007, and had been pushed to loss and debt-burdened by “disastrous experiments” by successive governments at the Centre on the national carrier’s organisational structure. “For this, the company management cannot be held responsible,” he added.

Published on May 31, 2017
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