‘Air India would be closed if not privatised’

New Delhi: Debt-ridden and olss-making Air India will have to be closed down if not privatised, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed Rajya Sabha and said the government is committed to secure a favourable deal for all employees of the state-owned carrier.

The government is in the process of finalising invitation of bids, he said, adding interests of employees of the state-owned carrier Air India would be protected and there would be no job loss till its privatisation.

"Your airlines would have to be closed down if not privatised," Puri said while replying to a supplementary question.

"... The process of disinvestment is underway. The issue of getting bids will arise only after we complete the processing. So far, the alternative mechanism, under the chairmanship of the Home Minister, has been made," he said.

"We have taken some decisions. Other decisions are being processed. Once we invite bids, then, we will see how many bids have come in," Puri added.

Talking about employees' concern, he said, "Issues being related to current employees, their health cover, how many would remain and what would happen, we are committed to secure a favourable deal for all employees."

Puri said there is a decline in global freight traffic but there might not be any impact in India.

"There is a decline in global freight traffic but if you look at the Indian scenario, I think that transportation by air is taking off and I don't see too much of a decline there."

The minister highlighted that earlier it used to take 116 hours to import a particular product and now it has come down to 39 hours.

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