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by amlan
Rated: 18+ · Article · Transportation · #2236592
How systematically Air India, the finest airline of Asia, has been reduced to a pauper.

There are certain functions of the government in governing the masses and it is for the betterment of the masses that we as a nation choose our leaders who can give us better governance. We the people, we the citizens of India involve ourselves in a humongous process of electing our leaders who would give us better governance, better life, and would keep the promises that the leaders make before the election process. This is one of the largest exercises in the world conducted by the largest democracy. Millions of rupees are spent every five years to do just that. Yet time and again we as citizens, we as the people, have failed ourselves to get good leaders and good governance.
Some of the important functions of the government is to provide healthcare, education, transportation and Communication to the masses at affordable price and that's where tax payers money should be utilized. These are all part of government duties and responsibilities .It is also the fundamental rights of the citizen to have affordable healthcare, good and meaningful education, affordable transportation, and telecommunication. Therefore Indian Railways, Hospitals, AIR INDIA, MTNL, BSNL, VSNL, are all part of government organizations for the benefits of the masses. Indian Railways are the largest railway system in the world connecting every station in the country providing transportation to all. So is AIR INDIA. Air India connects the country from the remotest of the airports from all corners of the country. Airports like Dapariju in Arunachal Pradesh which at times has a passenger load of just one or two is connected to the main stream India through AIR INDIA. The UDAN scheme is another effort in this direction and it is AIRINDIA that fulfills the obligation towards the taxpayers that is the citizens of India.
Having said this we have certain journalists, like Mr. R Jagannatha and certain famous and popular writers and novelist like Mr Chetan Bhagat and people like him who make comments in press and media platforms against AIR INDIA and encourage Privatization without giving much thoughts to the well being of the population and citizens. Such journalists and people of fame should be talking otherwise but unfortunately they jump into the bandwagon of yellow journalism collectively to get popularity with the gullible masses where by saying "Taxpayers money going down the drain" evokes immediate support and fan following.
I retired from AIR INDIA in the year 2019 but I am a hardcore AIR INDIAN at heart and would like my readers to understand the current state of this once magnificent Airline is nothing but the collective efforts of the powers at helm of affairs to loot ,rape, abuse, malign and plunder this airline of repute to the state that it is now. Maharaja of the sky is now with a begging bowl, thanks to our elected ministers and their cronies.
The constant rant of making AIR INDIA privatized is now harped by the PMO and the minister and they , like a parrot constantly speaks and squawks about privatization. Privatization is not the answer. Had it been so then best of the companies would not have shut shop without even thinking of the employees working for them. The private entity will not invest in any social and community responsibility as he is there to make money from the masses. Something called as Corporate Social Responsibility is rarely seen by any private enterprises in our country. One can count them on fingers. There are largely two such Private enterprises that invest in the society for the benefit and upliftment of the masses and they are TATA and MAHINDRA. The so-called richest man and businessman Mr. Ambani has hardly any social footprints and so is the Adanis.
So how difficult is this for anyone of us to understand. With private railways, hospitals, airlines, telecommunications, we will end up paying more money. Who loses and who gains?
Therefore who so ever advocates privatization as an answer is but digging his own grave. The fall of AIR INDIA, MTNL, BSNL, BSNL, are all engineered by the government itself and all the ways and means of how it was done is available to anyone who really wants to update his understanding. Correcting these issues by not harping on the constant word" privatization" and putting adequate pressure on the government to run these organizations for the general people and masses should be the agenda of the masses who elect such leaders. That would be the correct attitude and an important function of the people who elects.Â
I being from AIR INDIA, in this article I shall put forth the systematic way of raping and abusing this airline by the very government that needed to run this airline for the citizens of our country. Maharaja has been reduced to a pauper with a begging bowl. The tactics used for AIR INDIA is like a blueprint for the other companies too. MTNL, BSNL, VSNL, INDIAN RAILWAYS all fell prey to the politicians who we elected but we forgot to notice that they were actually the wolves in white khadi.
To write this article I have used the Comptroller and Auditor general's report of 2014,( CAG ) and Parliamentary Action Committee Report , ( PAC ) so that whatever I mention in this article is but a fact and not a figment of my or any journalist's imagination.
                              Mr. Jaganathan of Swarajyamag.com said, "AIRINDIA IS A FIT CASE FOR MERCY KILLING" whereas Mr. Chetan Bhagat said that the ,"AIRLINE SHOULD BE SOLD AT RUPEE ONE AS THAT IS THE VALUE OF THIS MAHARAJA" This article is a rebuttal to such journalists ,such novelists and writers who has very little understanding of the airline and knows practically nothing about the airline. Infact our media is filled with such yellow journalists and there is nothing I can say about such nonsensical writers who do no homework before shooting with their pens. Why blame such mere mortals when our very own ,then Chief Economic Advisor Mr. Arvind Subramanium 's comment in a leading Indian Daily namely "The Telegraph". What was very striking in his comments was a sentence wherein he wonders whether AIR INDIA should exist at all and that he says," The national carrier, staying afloat on a Rs 30,000-crore bailout package from the Centre......."
Somewhere down the line my views as expressed in this article will echo in the august corridors of power. The ministry of civil aviation's constant rant and diatribe about privatization should stop and they should look inwards to sustain this airline not for any other thing but for connectivity of the countries citizen with the country. IT IS THE OBLIGATION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE SUCH TRANSPORATION MEANS AND THAT HAS TO BE DONE WITH TAX PAYERS MONEY.
This is a country where everyone has a right to free speech and a right to express freely his or her opinion and in such purlieus and philanthropic backdrop I decided to pen my thoughts regarding this article.
Before I delve into the article itself I would like to offer my readers with some facts that will show how news and Media together are hands in glove to destroy AIRINDIA.
ATR coming into land at Mumbai goes off the runway. DGCA report blames the pilot and also pulls up the airhostesses for failing to perform their safety duties. There was no media coverage? ZERO! Similar incidents with ATR's in Kolhapur, Indore, Pathankot. Again ZERO media coverage!
Airbus A319 taxing for takeoff strikes an ATC tower at Agartala. 2 passengers injured in evacuation. Media coverage: ZERO.
The same airline found carrying excess passengers by the simple act of making children, some as old as 12 years old, sit on laps of parents! Again no media coverage!
3 times in a week, Airbus A320 aircraft departing out of Hyderabad return to airport because of fire alarms in the cargo hold. Reason: carrying illegal chemicals in the cargo hold of the aircraft. Turns out this happened dozens of times with the SAME airline in Hyderabad. Media coverage: ZERO!
Another ATR coming in to land at Bangalore looses it nose wheel and goes off the runway. It was a brand new aircraft, and was completely written off. Media Coverage: ZERO!
The Airlines in this list are the now defunct Kingfisher Airline and Indigo Airline.
The reason why I mentioned Kingfisher here is because with the advent of Kingfisher and with the advent of Mr. Parful Patel ,as the so called honorable minister of civil aviation, the road map to destroy this finest PSU initiated...........A road map to extirpate AIRINDIA instituted
It all started in 2004....... Mr.Praful Patel took over as the minister of civil aviation. AIRINDIA already had made a net profit of Rupees 135 Crores in spite of the recession that had kicked in and all over the world aviation industry was finding it very difficult to sustain, survive, and EXIST. The Domestic Carrier INDIAN AIRLINES had a market share of 42% and was a leader in the domestic market. Under the command of Mr. Sunil Arora the then CMD of Indian Airlines it was doing very well as a market leader.. That, probably our political masters didn't like.
From 2004, one saw a systematic attempt being made to cut the wings of the national carriers to benefit the private carriers. Since the private carriers were not flying international at the time, their primary target back then was that thorn in their flesh: Indian Airlines. The minister for civil aviation, Mr.Praful Patel, a close friend and alleged "samdhee" of Vijay Mallya, became quite unpopular for his tendency to call up airline managers at Indian Airlines asking them to withdraw flights from specific sectors or change timings of existing flights so as to benefit Kingfisher which was back then just finding its feet. In fact, such was the zeal with which he pushed that airlines interests, that Praful Patel came to be nicknamed as "Minister for Kingfisher" by sections within Indian Airlines.
In 2009 alone, Air India/Indian Airlines, pulled out of as many as 32 routes which had load factors above 90%, mainly in the Gulf and Singapore sectors. And its no surprise to see that the AI/IC flights have been replaced, one for one, by Kingfisher and Jet, at exactly the same timings as the erstwhile AI/IC flights!
On 12th October 2009, the management sent letters to station managers in Kozhikode, Cochin, Doha, Sharjah and Bahrain informing them of a decision to reduce or cut flights on these sectors. All these sectors saw loads of above 90% and were replaced by flights operated by Jet and Etihad airways. Other routes which saw exactly similar dynamics at work: Chennai-Colombo (just in time for Spice jet to start ops on the route), Kolkata-Bangkok (Kingfisher started ops barely a week after IC was made to pull out), Kolkata-Singapore and London-New York! What can explain these decisions? Who was pressurizing the management to do so? And why?
They were also forced to share the hangars and maintenance infrastructure with Kingfisher: their competitor! This ministerial largesse was not extended to everyone of course! It was a very select group that got the cream flowing off the minister's desk! Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher, Dinesh Keskar of Boeing and Rahul Bhatia of Indigo were on this exclusive list of the ministers friends.
One of the most startling policy decisions, and one that has certainly contributed to the mammoth hole that the national carrier finds itself in, was the decision to merge the 2 carriers Air India and Indian Airlines: the argument given was that this would allow an entry into the Star Alliance which it was promised would be the silver bullet to end all of the national carriers problems. No explanation was given on why the Star Alliance alone was chosen of all the options out there. Why not Skyteam? Or OneWorld? The minister of course didn't answer it then, and we don't expect Mr.Patel to answer that one now!
One explanation given for the ill-gotten merger makes the most sense: and is the most disturbing. Most bilateral signed between India and other countries have specific clauses limiting the access to bilateral to 2 carriers on each side. So on a route like Chennai-Singapore, we had Air India and Indian Airlines operating under their separate AOC's which meant that Jet or KF wouldn't be able to operate to Singapore even after they became eligible to do so!
But why worry when you have an obliging minister to do the dirty work: merge the 2 carriers so they operate on one AOC, cut the flights operated by AI/IC from 32 to 16 and voila!
Now Jet and KF can suddenly fly to Singapore! And Hong Kong! And Bangkok! and all the other places they couldn't fly to if Air India and Indian Airlines had existed as separate carriers.
The reduction in flights was explained as "route rationalization": never mind if both AI and IC had loads in excess of 80% on these flights! What this route rationalization has done is to reduce the utilization of aircraft from 16 hours a day before to just over 8 hours a day today. What this does to the profitability of the airline is anybody's guess!
Indian Airlines and Air India were 2 very different airlines: with different work cultures, and different approaches to operations and route structures. The airlines did not merge out of their choice: this was a choice forced from above by a minister hand in glove with private carriers.
And the result is out there for everyone to see: Before the merger in 2007, Indian Airlines had a net loss of 280 crores and was on the verge of coming out into full profitability, having already stabilized operational profits on over 90% of its route network. The other airline, Air India, had a loss of around 400 crores: this meant a combined loss of around 680 crores, with the situation rapidly improving for both. Within three years of the merger, however, the losses of the combined carrier have ZOOMED to 16000 crores, mainly on account of debt servicing of loans taken to pay for a fleet that they didn't ask for: which is another can of worms altogether.
Fleet acquisition scam: Air India had made a request for 24 aircraft in the MCLR category (Medium Capacity Long Range) and even initially selected the Airbus A340-300. Indian Airlines on the other hand, had wanted a total 43 new Airbuses to replace the existing fleet of Airbuses they already operated: that's a total of 67 aircraft. The minister, for reasons best known to him (and his friend Dinesh Keskar of Boeing), decided that number just wasn't enough. So the actual order placed was for a whopping 111 aircraft, including 68 aircraft for Air India, instead of the 24 they had wanted.
Many of us following the process back then were stumped by how an airline with a turnover of a little over 7000 crores could place orders for aircraft costing over 32000 crores: the interest burden per year alone would come to 6000 crores! In fact the airline is shelling out over 8 crores PER DAY in interest payments alone!
Another stupefying factor was the complete lack of transparency in the order process. Rules were being bent and changed to benefit one manufacturer (Boeing) for reasons that are still not entirely clear. To give just one example, overnight the RFP's were changed to ask for an aircraft that could seat 9-across, which effectively ruled Airbus out of the competition. And they weren't even given time to respond to the revised RFP before the order was announced in favor of Boeing.
The Parliamentary Committee setup to examine the aircraft deal said this (I quote): "Reasons for going ahead with huge purchases by the civil aviation ministry despite Air India and Indian Airlines not having the capacity to support it, remain unknown to the Committee. It, therefore, recommends that this aspect needs to be further probed to fix the responsibility for taking such an ambitious decision that has become a big financial liability."
Airbus had back then clearly said that the order for aircraft was taken "for reasons other than technical or commercial". You read between the lines!
Call Center and other conflicts of interest: Until 2009, the call center for Indian Airlines was being run by a firm called Omnia International. In 2009 however, a decision was taken, at the minister's behest, to award the contract to run the call center to, hold your breath, Interglobe Technologies, a company that later went on to set up Indigo airlines: the main competitor to Indian Airlines!! Imagine this: outsourcing your call center operations to be run by a competitor?
In the light of the Radia tapes, where Niira Radia talks of Patel having a stake in Indigo, this raises some disturbing questions indeed!
This is by no means the only instance where the door was thrown open to the wolves. A management consultancy was hired at a price of 90 crores to advise Air India on how they should restructure their operations. The contract was awarded to, hold your breath, Accenture Consulting: a company with close links to the UB and USL Groups which own Kingfisher, and which had previously worked on the acquisition of Air Deccan by Kingfisher!
Bilateral scam: The most deadly blow to Air India and Indian Airlines came from Praful Patel's decision to parcel out bilateral rights to select foreign carriers like Emirates and Lufthansa whose business models depended on a large part of passengers being flown via their hubs in Frankfurt and Dubai at cut-rate fares. No country on earth does this kind of free-fall parceling out of bilateral rights in the manner that Mr. Patel did. Was there a quid-pro-quo? Is there a connection between Emirates getting rights and investments being made in Patels' group companies? Is there a connection between Lufthansa getting rights and their investments in the MIHANS projects around Nagpur? Guess it will take some brilliant journalism to get at the route of this! Or perhaps just HONEST journalism!
I have just given a brief in these above paragraphs as to how the politician is responsible for the ailing and infirm health of AIRINDIA. A detailed report of the very methodology of carnage, massacre, and extermination of this beautiful airline is available to anyone who is interested in the form of PAC report and the CAG report 2014 by Mr. Vinod Rai.Â
Every time when there is a debate on the issue of whether AIRIDIA should exist or not the panels of important people shout and proclaim that the tax payer's money is at stake in keeping this airline alive and that the tax payer's money is utilized to pay the hefty wage bill of the employee. My humble question to all those important panelists is, why do you all not question the politicians of this country when they hardly function in the parliament and staged walkouts and disrupt the proper functioning of the houses? Is tax payer's money not involved there?
I must remind to all that this is the AIRLINE which had the highest CSR policies whether it is operation AIRLIFT ( It is in the Guinness book of world record and till date no other commercial airline has been able to take that distinction from AIRINDIA , and never will) , or transporting our jawans to KIGALI or bringing them back from KIGALI, or transshipping our police and paramilitary for election duties, or bringing back our stranded people from Andaman when other favorites of our politicians were making money on someone's vexation. This AIRLINE has been the subject of abuse by the politicians and the media time and again and in spite of all that I have mentioned above This Airline still sores the sky.
The very recent floods of kerela is a glaring example of how the Airline stood by the citizens of this country time and again. AIR INDIA deployed ATR 70 aircraft from the naval air base in Cochin after doing a proven flight to that airport and have given blanket permissions to anybody and everybody who had a AIRINDIA ticket and could not travel out of cochin. No additional charges, no date change charges, no surge pricing,. I ask this question to all the respected and valued tax payers, which AIRLINE has done this in India?.... It is always Air India that comes to the relief of the citizens of India time and again.Â
The current COVID 19 pandemic has shown each and every Indian what AIR INDIA is capable of doing for the citizens of this country. I need not go into the details but it is noteworthy that AIR INDIA flew to Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, and rescued our citizens without any brouhaha. The crew and the engineers, security, commercial staff all went to Wuhan and brought back our citizens without even giving a second thoughts. Thy jeopardized the lives of their loved ones but took t as a call of duty for the country. Was tax payer's money well spent?
It is so sad that we have yellow journalists and novelists and writers of repute who forgets their actual responsibility and start licking the feet of the criminals and ministers and then shoot nonsense in the media.
The recent tweets about the AIRLINE are an indication of the overall performance. We have more bouquets than brickbats
The tremendous loan overhead of AIRINDIA is nothing but Mr. Parful Patel's offertory.
Even the CEO of AIR ASIA who is undergoing CBI investigation has said that He paid around 17 crores to the now infamous Praful Patel. As an intelligent man you should be asking SHOULD SUCH POLITICIAN EXIST???
It is very easy to blame the lower rung officers and workforce for the state of the AIRLINE because no one ,no media person or journalist, or novelist have the guts to question the people in power as I feel somewhere they want to please them so that they get a political mileage and may be a seat.
Ambanis owe one lac seventy two thousand crores to the Indian national banks and all that money is tax payer's money. Does anyone have the acumen and courage to ask why that amount is not returned?
Neither the journalists, or the novelists, nor any body and no courts and investigation agency have the courage and intrepidity to bring the culprits to justice.
AIRINDIA is one of the finest airline in the world and is bestowed with workforce which is loyal and each and every worker at each and every level loves this airline as their mother. It is a National pride, it is the National Flag Carrier where we carry the physical flag and one and everyone should do their bit to uphold this airlines pride and prestige. Each minister who came as civil aviation minister, are responsible for the mess that this Airline is in and each journalists and people of repute and the wannabes have added to the befall of this airline time and again and they help wash the dirty hands of the political masters and politicians by saying that this finest product should be a fit case for mercy killing and that it should be privatized.

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