Air India
Air India

New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri's recent statement on closing down Air India if the divestment process is not successful, will have financial implications for the state-owned carrier, prompting passengers to cancel bookings and employees to join other organisations, an Air India employees union wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In its letter, the Aviation Industry Employees' Guild said the aviation minister's statement was uncalled for at this stage, when the government is in the process of inviting interested entities to acquire stake in the beleaguered airline.

"This insensitive and unwarranted statement will frighten away not only passengers but also high paying customers who book cargo through AI (Air India) and prospective investors and as such, it is highly detrimental to the interests of our airline at this crucial juncture," the letter stated.

The letter highlighted a Bombay High Court order dated Apr 7, 2010, which had directed the government to desist from going public with statements that can harm the company's prospects of earning revenue.

The employees' union has urged the civil aviation minister to refrain from making such statements in the future, and withdraw the statement made recently.

As on Nov 1, Air India's employee strength stood at 13,629, of which 9,428 were permanent and 4,201 contractual.

In March 2018, the government had sought expression of interest for its 76% stake in Air India, but failed to elicit any response, primarily on account of the national carrier's huge debt.

After having hived off 294.64 bln rupees of the carrier's debt to special purpose vehicle Air India Assets Holding Ltd, the government now plans to put the airline on the block once again.

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