I have been watching developments in the Air India story with lot of interest.
Praful Patel, the Aviation Minister in his press interview made some announcements which I felt showed lack of understanding of the real issue. He offered financial help but it was conditional on ‘performance’.
There were suggestions, ridiculous no doubt, that the senior managers should forgo one month’s salary. Whether it included Praful Patel is not known; in any case it would make very little difference to the minister. The salaries have delayed as the news reports say. The Unions responded by some equally strong demands, among them, cancellation of orders for new aircrafts.
In my previous post I have already covered the shocking inefficiencies created by merger of Indian Airlines and Air India. This could not have happened without the Government’s blessings.
With extremely heavy political influence [if not interference] of the Government, one wonders who the real employer is! Is that Government of India or the management of Air India? The fact is that Government of India is perhaps waking up now to the realisation that in this fiercely competitive industry of aviation, we need a good leadership at the helm of affairs in Air India. These cannot be sourced from political contacts or bureaucracy. And after such appointment, the Government must allow Air India to function on its own.
During the current crisis it is Praful Patel who will have to show some ‘performance’. The task before him is to get the three parties, namely Government of India, management of Air India and the Unions together to work out a quick and comprehensive solution. And allow the airline a good leadership and autonomy. It is a difficult task, but all the three parties who are viewing each other sans trust and confidence will do well to recognise that there is an enemy outside watching closely their moves. It is the international competition which can inflict greatest damage.