Successive governments have “short changed” Air India by treating it like their private properties, TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi said Wednesday as he urged the Centre to review the decision to divest stake in the airline. “By just looking at the debt and ignoring the revival signs would be to take a narrow view of the situation,” the former railway minister said.
As part of efforts to revive the national carrier, the Cabinet has given in-principle approval for divestment and the final contours are being worked out by a group of ministers. “If Air India today is in this financial situation it was not because of Air India but successive governments have short-changed Air India and treated it like their private properties and at times private airlines, be international or domestic came under category of favoured airlines,” Trivedi told PTI.
Against this backdrop, Trivedi said it is evident that there is potential for further growth of Air India if the turnaround plan continues along with other rationalisation measures. The airline, which is staying afloat on a little over Rs 30,000 crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA regime, reported an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16 – the first time it turned operationally profitable in a decade.
Urging the government to reconsider the decision on Air India disinvestment, Trivedi said it should work on restructuring debt and push the turnaround plan. “As the government operates BSNL and MTNL in communications and Doordarshan and All India Radio in broadcasting, it should have a national carrier as well,” he added. He has also served as a member of the parliamentary consultative committee of the civil aviation ministry.