Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Stake sale will open doors to better future: Parl Panel to hear stakeholders’ views today

WITH cabinet giving its approval for Air India's disinvestment, the Maharaja is up for grabs to global players. But the global expansion plans, along with the induction of more aircraft and pilots, would not be affected by the government's decision, Ashwani Lohani, Chairman and Managing Director of Air India told a news agency.
The decision would open doors to a better future for the airline and its employees, Lohani said.
He also allays the apprehension of the employees...
over the divestment process.
"I have been in touch with employees through WhatsApp, e-mail, and by having one-on-one interactions. I have asked them -- why should we slacken from our end? We should continue to do our best," he said.
"As and when a decision is taken on the divestment we will make sure that employees' genuine interests are put forth to the government," Lohani added.
Talking about Air India’s expansion plans, Lohani said Air India will start a new destination each month till October. A new route to Stockholm will be started in August, followed, a month later, to Copenhagen. In October, we will start our New Delhi-Los Angeles flight operations.
Air India has a network of more than 30 destinations across the US, Europe, Australia, Far-East and South-East Asia, and the Gulf regions. It gets over 65 per cent of its revenue from overseas operations and has deployed most of its assets on foreign routes. The airline hopes to add around 15 more aircraft to its fleet via the lease model by this fiscal-end. Most of these aircraft will be turbo-prop planes which will be used to connect the hinterland with metropolitan cities. Currently, the airline has more than 115 aircraft in its fleet -- a mix of wide-body Boeing B777s, B747s, B787 Dreamliner aircraft, and the narrow body Airbus A321s, A320s and A319 planes, apart from turbo-props. He said that cost-saving measures undertaken, along with aggressive focus on international markets and route rationalisation efforts, are expected to raise the operating profit of the airline to around Rs 150 crore from Rs 110 crore in 2015-16. "These figures might be inconsequential, but the significance they hold is the fact that a turnaround is taking place," the airline's chief said.
A Parliamentary panel will hear on August 8 the views of various stakeholders on the disinvestment of national carrier Air India and Pawan Hans Limited. While a group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is looking into various aspects of the proposed disinvestment of Air India, the government has already decided to sell its entire 51 per cent stake in Pawan Hans Ltd (PHL), in which the rest 49 per cent holding is with ONGC.

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