The Modi Government has decided Foreign Direct Investment in the prestigious National Carrier Air India clearing road for foreign airlines to own up to 49 per cent in Air India. The substantive control of stay with Indian national with 51 per cent share capital.
Earlier framed FDI rules already allowed foreign airlines to own as much as 49 per cent of domestic airlines, but there was a provisions to keep Air India out of such investment. It is really tragic that now there is disinvestment in Air India also.
In the Nehru era craze for nationalization the Tata Airlines of Tatas and Bharat Airways of Birlas were nationalized for form a Government undertaking Air India for International routes and the Indian Airlines for domestic routes. But Prime Minister Pandit Nehru urged and kept on Mr.JRD Tata as Chairman of the Air India.
Mr.Tata was well known for his passion and flying his hobby. It was he who introduced civil aviation in India by flying first plane in India from Karachi to Bombay in 1931.
Under Mr.JRD Tata able leadership the Air India really became a “Maharaja” airlines in super performance and earning. The “Maharaja” is its logo. Mr.JRD Tata for practical purposes was the Life Chairman of the Air India. But the whims and personal prejudice of Mr.Morarji Desai against Mr.Tata ruined the Air India.
In 1977 when Mr.Morarji became the Prime Minister, he removed Mr.Tata from the Chairmanship of Air India and appointed retired Indian Air Force Chief of Staff Air Marshal PC Lall as its Chairman.
For some time it rolled under the system and legacy of Mr.Tata but after some time the decline started in the Air India.
Many a time the Union Government provided budgetary capital support and loan to overcome the crisis and float and fly majestically as before during the Tata time. Many experiments were carried out on it. Some time the domestic Indian Airlines was separated from it to form another undertaking and again merged into. The services and efficiency declined and losses started mounting.
The Congress led UPA Government of Prime Minister Mr.Manmohan Singh provided bail-out package Rs. 30,213 crores for 10 years on the conditions and expectations that it would recover and start earning profits. But nothing of that sort happened.
To this day the Air India has a debt burden Rs.52,000 crores and out o it 22,000 crores are loans for aircrafts and the rest is working capital and other liability.
The Air India staff has urged the Government not to disinvest Air India. Rather it should waive off its loan and provide capital support and give some time to recover.
The Government must maintain air India as its national carriers, The Railways are also running in losses.
It has no money even for track renewal. Then too the Government is maintaining as Government undertaking. The same criteria should e applied to Air India also.