A parliamentary panel has asked the government to grant more autonomy to Air India and settle all merger related issues in accordance with its earlier recommendations, including creating separate airlines for domestic and international services under one holding company.
In its latest report tabled in Parliament today, the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture recommended that "all the merger related issues should be settled according to the recommendations of this Parliamentary Committee." It felt that Air India should be granted more autonomy by the government which should "not impose its decisions" on the ailing national carrier.
Expressing hope that National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL) would come out of the merger related issues in the coming years and produce the required results to establish itself as a leader in the civil aviation market, the Committee asked the national carrier to "put its act together as early as possible for reclaiming its 'Maharaja' status".
The same panel, headed by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, had in another report in January strongly opposed the decision to merge the two national carriers and recommended that AI's domestic and international wings be separated but they should remain under a single holding firm, NACIL. The same recommendation was later made by the Committee on Public Undertakings headed by Congress member V Kishore Chandra Deo.
The Yechury panel, in the latest report reviewing the Demands for Grants of the Civil Aviation Ministry, warned NACIL to be "careful to ensure that merger related issues (do) not make any negative impact on its growth".
It pointed out that Air India Express had "not come up to expected levels" in the low-cost carrier market and felt that it should take "giant steps" to gain more market share.
It said that the airline "still needs some aggressive marketing and promotional strategies to strengthen its presence in domestic and international markets.
"The Committee hopes that with the induction of new aircraft, NACIL should be in a position to expand its air services to the length and breadth of the country".
It asked the NACIL to revisit the underutilised bilaterals signed in the past and "try to add more services with new aircraft".