Friday, December 18, 2020

Air India sale: In their bid, the employee consortium seeks to prove dissenters, and history, wrong

The employee consortium bidding for Air India has raised curiosity, with many a question that have remained unanswered. It is also up against history, with few similar buyouts of airlines by their employees turning out to be fruitful.

The consortium, led by Meenakshi Malik - Air India's Commercial Director -  has manged to get the support of 219 employees. "It's not many, considering that Air India has over 10,000 employees," says a senior official from the industry.

It doesn't seem to have the support of pilots and crew. The two pilot unions - Indian Commercial Pilots' Association and Indian Pilots' Guild - advised its members 'not to take part' in the bid, in a letter that was sent out about 10 days before the December 14 deadline for suitors to submit their expressions of interest.

"In this regard all pilots are advised NOT TO acknowledge or participate in the process initiated by the management official till the disproportionate 70% Pay Cut for Pilots vis-à-vis Air India’s top Management officials (10%) is addressed," the letter said.

The All India Cabin Crew Association gave a similar reason for not supporting the bid. It further noted, in its letter to the Air India Chairman Rajiv Bansal:

"The AICCA had proudly supported the employee buyout bid for Air India at that time by the IPG, during the government of our PM A.B. Vajpayee, and perhaps in better circumstances the cabin crew may have considered it. But with more than (Rs) 1400 crores of employees arrears outstanding, it has become impossible."

Moneycontrol reached out to pilots and crew members of the airline. None was part of the consortium.

Not that Malik seems to be banking on their support. Pointing out that there are more to Air India employees than just the pilots, the senior executive said, "We have got support from employees across ranks and department. Right from a peon to a Director," she told Moneycontrol.

18/12/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/

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