"One thing is clear: the government will not give more public money to sustain carrier"

Stating that Air India would soon come out with a new business plan to cut down losses, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Friday warned that this was the last chance for the national carrier to make a turnaround and public money would not be spent anymore to sustain it.

Mr. Singh said the airline was now losing Rs. 10 crore-15 crore a day due to the pilots strike and after curtailment and rationalisation of international flight schedules, the losses would come down to Rs. 5crore-6 crore. “One thing is clear: the government will not give more public money to Air India. This [offer of] Rs. 30,000 crore is our last chance to perform or perish,” he said at a briefing for journalists here.

On the business plan, he said it could include hiring of new pilots if necessary. Air India's operations on all routes would be reviewed, particularly in the international sectors where it was making losses or not able to recover fuel cost, before finalising the plan.

Uniform pay structure

Mr. Singh announced implementation of uniform structures for pay, allowances and career progression for the employees. “It is necessary if the airline is to survive. Things would start moving on this front in 45 days. Employees' integration is necessary if merger has to succeed.''

Referring to the agitating pilots, he said: “They should unilaterally call off their strike. The Delhi High Court has also said the same thing. It is an illegal strike. We will consider all their demands after they join duty.”

On the Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari Committee recommendations on HR integration of employees of the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines, he said there would be parity in pay scales and uniform working conditions for all staffers. The airlines were merged in 2007. However, the pay scales and allowance structure for pilots, engineers, cabin crew and technicians would be determined on the basis of industry norms.

A panel of officials was set up for implementation of recommendations on pay fixation, level-mapping of all employees and their promotional avenues. “The Implementation-cum-Anomaly Committee would seek the views of all sections of employees and complete its task within the next 45 days.”

PLI will go

Mr. Singh said the crucial Productivity-Linked Incentive in its present form would stand abolished and be subsumed in determination of basic pay to the extent admissible under DPE (Department of Public Enterprises) guidelines.

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