Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Air India: Why are MPs hell bent on funding the white elephant with tax-payers' money?

Members of Parliament are loath to give up the numerous entitlements bestowed by our great democracy. Not only do some of them feel entitled enough to assault airline staff for being denied Business Class travel on a short domestic flight, they remain unapologetic even in the face of severe criticism and instead threaten to sue the airline for denying them a seat subsequently. All because these MPs feel their station in life allows them privileges which lesser mortals, the aam aadmis, do not enjoy. And this sense of entitlement does not end with demanding various privileges at airports or on board the aircraft, it seems to extend to various other forms of travel too.
Why else would a parliamentary standing committee, comprising MPs, rue the fact that loss-making Air India be pumped in with more government funds? When it is amply clear that Air India’s turnaround is still on shaky ground and the government continues to throw good money after bad. Do the MPs want the airline to survive on taxpayers’ money so that their privileges while travelling by air continue? Private airlines are less likely to suffer their whims, after all.
Then, why will a bunch of MPs also go on to advocate repeatedly that the government fix air ticket prices in a free market and why would they single out Air India to complain about its catering? Remember, Air India has contracts with the same catering agencies that other full service airlines like Jet Airways and Vistara (which also offer complimentary meals) have and the airline has claimed in the past that it hardly gets any complaints about its catering. AI serves hot snacks on even one-hour flights!

These are three of the several suggestions that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism Transport and Culture has made in its 244th report submitted to Parliament recently.
28/03/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post