AI-Indian Airlines merger responsible for all ills: CMD

  • Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 22, 2016 16:44 IST
In this file photo, an Air India flight can be seen waiting for repairs at Mumbai. (Pramod Thakur/HT Photo)

The merger of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India (AI) is responsible for all the “ills” plaguing the state-owned carrier, which now has a bureaucracy bigger than even the Indian Railways, CMD Ashwani Lohani said in a blogpost.

He also indirectly lashed out at government agencies for red-flagging the national carrier’s various business decisions, saying: “The role of the watchdogs is also really what dogs do. They wait and watch and jump at the slightest hint of movement, and in the process create an environment where movement if any is at the peril of the mover.”

“How can a outside agency be entrusted with the task of ensuring probity in public life? It is simply the job of the executive and if he lacks integrity, the organisation does not have a future either way.”

Air India was merged with Indian Airlines in 2007. It has also been a drag on the balance sheet, with the merged airline posting its first operational profit, since the merger, in 2015-16.

“It makes me sad when the common employee is often blamed for the ills of the organisation, whereas the real reason for the debacle lies elsewhere, in my opinion on the head honcho,” Lohani said in the hard-hitting blog post. “An organisation is only as good or as bad as the head honcho, everything else is merely a symptom. A merger that really never happened and in the process resulted in a chaotic situation, is at the back of all ills that we are currently witnessing.”

“I always believed that the great Indian railways was the mother of all bureaucracies, but not any longer. Here at the national carrier the ridiculousness of the process and the diehard belief therein has been carried to a mind-boggling extent.”

AI, he said, is now slowly getting back on track, but “still has miles to go before one can relax and watch the planes fly”.

Talking about the operational problems, Lohani said: “Eight months at the helm of the national carrier has been a hectic affair. With almost everything in disarray, be it operations or engineering, public image or commercial, finance, or even personnel, it was fairly obvious even to a novice like me that what this organisation indeed lacked was that one magical word — leadership.”

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