Aviation minister admits that execution of the merger process has not been up to the mark
Civil aviation minister Praful Patel has suggested that the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines could have been better executed but for "a kind of sabotage from within.”
Asked about criticism of the merger, he said, "I concede that the merger could have been better executed and implemented. There has been even I would say a kind of sabotage from within. People did not want to see it to be implemented well.”
“But the basic concept has been going on since the time of JRD Tata. A couple of times well-meaning people had attempted to merge the two as it made business, economic and technical sense,” he said.
"There are no two opinions about whether the merger was required or not. This was not a knee-jerk reaction. It was well thought-out, well-planned and made immense economic sense," Mr Patel said, reports PTI.
He said the merger was done after consulting secretaries and committees.
The minister said that the government took a “conscious decision” based on valid technical inputs. “The intentions were good but maybe the execution has not been up to the mark,” he admitted.
Mr Patel said that the government as of now intends to run Air India as a State-owned carrier.
Asked if the government had any intention of privatising or disinvesting Air India, he said, “I cannot speak about policy until some decision is taken by (the) government. As a personal opinion, I can say that most national carriers across the world have not done well.”
"Considering that, Air India has still come a long, long way and has retained its national carrier status,” he said.
"Someday, the government may take a different decision. As of today, we intend to run it as a national carrier, as (a) State-owned (airline)," Mr Patel said.
On the completion of Mumbai airport, Mr Patel said that though the project was 18 months behind the Delhi airport, when it is completed it would match the latter in terms of being “truly world class.”
"Mumbai and Delhi are not going to be different in terms of standards and state-of-the-art terminals. But Mumbai has a peculiar problem of rehabilitation of a large number of people living in the airport vicinity,” Mr Patel said.
He said that 20,000 slum-dwellers would be rehabilitated in “permanent, very good” houses just two kilometres from the airport.