Unions flay move to allow foreign agencies in ground handling

Staff Reporter

Say public sector airline employees will lose jobs

Move will pose security threat: employees guild

Call to review liberalised security guidelines

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The employees of National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) are up in arms against the Centre’s decision to give licences to foreign agencies for ground handling operations at airports.

The move will pose security problems and will be a threat to the job security of 17,000 NACIL employees.

The members of the Air India Employees Guild (AIEG) and the Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) held a demonstration at the international airport here on Tuesday to protest against the decision of the Centre.

The protest was led by K. Saju Thomas and C. Sudhakaran Pillai, secretaries of AIEG and ACEU respectively. In a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the AIEG pointed out that the new ground handling policy will spell the death knell of the NACIL, the national carrier, and other Indian Aviation companies.

As per the new policy, three foreign companies/agencies can undertake ground handling activities of all airlines from January 1 at New Delhi and Mumbai airports. The agencies will, in course of time, take up ground handling activities at other airports, sources said.

The AIEG also questioned the system followed by the Civil Aviation Ministry to giving security clearance to the companies selected for the work.

The U.K. Department of Transport had recently confiscated the licence of a European company for failing to meet security standards, they said.

Recently, the government had debarred foreigners from holding the position of ‘security chief’ in airline companies since they would be privy to classified information. However, all the three ground handling companies will be managed by foreigners, they said.

Liberal policies

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security had been relaxing the security standards and rules to suit the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s liberalisation and commercialisation policies, the union office-bearers added.

The handing over of the lucrative and profitable business of ground handling to foreign companies would cause tremendous loss to NACIL, the exchequer and Indian aviation companies. The entire business of ground handling of airlines amounting to Rs.1000 crore will be controlled by foreign ground handling companies, they pointed out.

NACIL will now be forced to pay exorbitant rates for ground handling, thereby causing a drain of revenue to the extent of at least Rs.1,000 crore, sources said.

The cost of ground handling for all airlines and NACIL will go up. Employees of NACIL will become redundant as commercial, cargo and catering departments will cease to exist, they added.

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