Air India chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola has in a New Year message to the airline's staff made it clear that 'we have to perform if we do not want to perish.' Kharola, who has just taken over as chairman and managing director of the disinvestment-bound national carrier also said the onus to steer the airline out of turbulence lies on everyone. He said Air India has to beat competition in on-time- performance, load factor and cleanliness among other parameters.
Amidst all the talk about our future identity, we have to stay focused and deliver, he added. "We have to adopt a professional and productive work culture which will hold the key for our turnaround...your hard work has helped Air India to improve in some of the key operational parameters in recent times, but still, we have miles to go,'' the CMD's New Year message states.
Kharola also urged employees to pull out all stops and cast aside the deterrents that have been holding the flag carrier back from tapping the immense potential. The onus is on us to steer our company out of turbulence into clear skies again with singleminded determination and grit.
"We must aim to improve our performance in every sphere to match up to industry benchmarks, he said. Air India has been launching new flights on domestic and international routes, initiating innovative schemes and upgrading its fleet to become more vibrant and win passenger confidence,'' he said.
"I implore all of you to sustain this effort to resurrect the pride and glory of the airline. We have to perform if we do not want to perish,'' Kharola said. The debt-ridden national carrier has been losing market share to private carriers such as lowcost carrier Indigo which have proven that profits can be made even in a challenging environment.
The government has been working on the modalities for strategic disinvestment of the loss-making national carrier after the Cabinet approval for the move came through in June. Air India is still piling up losses because of the interest payments on the mountain of debt that hovers around Rs 52,000 crore.
The accumulated losses and huge debt is posing a major hurdle in attracting buyers even as the airline has a large fleet and flying rights on lucrative international destinations. The CMD's message comes close on the heels of Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju stating in the Lok Sabha last week that the government does not want Air India to go the Kingfisher Airlines way.
The government does not want anyone working in Air India to lose his or her job even as the disinvestment process of the national carrier has been initiated, the minister said. "We want the Air India to serve the nation, to serve the people and fly high," he had added.