MPs’ panel asks Air India shape up


NEW DELHI – National carrier Air India has hit another air pocket. The consultative committee of the members of Parliament on civil aviation, has made a scathing reference to various issues with regard to the airline’s leasing model, losses, market share, routes, management and its performance.

Deliberating on its aircraft leasing model, the committee, which met this week, has asked the national carrier to take a fresh look into it. In fact, it has asked the management of the loss-making airlines to explain why it is leasing the same model of planes which it is selling alongside.

According to sources in the civil aviation ministry, a member of the committee said that despite the merger, the airline is not commanding the position of a market leader.

All of them also felt that even after the merger, the airline was still facing huge losses. The members also came down heavily on why the merged airlines had stopped operating on lucrative international routes which has now been taken up by many private airlines.

The committee was further critical on the performance and time schedules of both the carriers (Air India and Indian) and felt the issues needed to be relooked. Many in the committee said that a full overhaul of the system should be carried out in both the carriers.

The members, however, applauded the growth in the sector and congratulated the minister and the ministry officials for facilitating this growth, a member of the committee told SundayET.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel informed the committee that during 2007, domestic airline passenger traffic had grown from 326.28 lakh to 432.89 lakh — a growth of 32.51% vis-à-vis 2006. And considering the fact that the base is also growing, it was commendable.

Ministry officials also said that the new category of airline services, the Scheduled Air Transport(Regional) Services, has been introduced to promote regional connectivity especially to tier II and tier III cities. In fact, four airlines have been given an NoC in this category.