Will Air India help us in a situation like Gulf War? Ask Unions, Tata Sons has no answer

Referring to the operation launched by Air India during the Gulf War, the CTU asked- will Air India now be able to provide humanitarian assistance to those in crisis or in time of natural disaster?

Air India
Air India


Will Air India – the national career which has recently been handed over to Tata Sons after the latter won the bid to acquire the national career – provide humanitarian assistance to those in crisis or in time of natural disaster, asked the Central Trade Unions (CTU).

Citing the operation launched by the Air India during the Gulf War – which is considered one of the biggest evacuation operations in the world – the umbrella body of various trade unions said, “Let us remember that it was Air India which made 440 flights lift one lakh Indians back home during Gulf war. It is this carrier that brought Indian citizens home stranded abroad in precarious situations due to Covid-19. It is Air India which was used in helping people in natural disasters like earthquakes, heavy floods, avalanches in hill areas, etc.”

NH contacted Tata Sons for their version, but the call and email went unanswered. However, a source close to the group said, “We have just won the bid. Even we have not taken handover yet. How can anything be said on such assumptions?”

Attacking the Modi government for handing over the national asset virtually as a gift to Tata Sons, the CTU said, “The policy of the government to sell every public sector asset is not only disastrous but it is also a policy which goes against people's interest and is anti-national”.

Trade unions vehemently opposed the privatisation of Air India arguing that the interests of the workers will be compromised. In this case, Tata Sons have given only one year guarantee for the protection of jobs.

“Those serving would be adversely affected as the workers are given protection for one year only. A large number of employees are in the age group of 40-55 years which renders them ineligible for jobs in other companies,” said the umbrella body of the union.

Accusing the Modi government of “virtually gifting Air India on 75th year of independence” the CTU said a huge amount of money was infused from the national exchequer to expand Air India’s asset base.

“The sale-deal with Tata envisages that government will absorb Rs 46,262 crore of the Rs 67000 crore debt burden of Air India, but the assets created by such debt will be handed over to Tata in lieu of only Rs 18000 crore,” said the CTU.

“This is virtually like gifting the national carrier to Tata and demonstrated worst ever perverted economic deal for frittering away national assets in favor of their corporate masters. Now the government has moved ahead for selling the four subsidiaries also,” it added.

Rs 1,10,000 crore was infused in Air India by the then UPA government between 2009 to 2010, comprising of Rs 58000 crore cash support and rest through government guarantee on credit.

Then the merger of Indian Airlines with Air India was done to mitigate losses but that did not work.

After two failed two attempts, the government finally succeeded to sell loss-laden Air India to Tata Sons after making substantial changes in the terms and conditions of the bidding.

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