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RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch opposes Centre's disinvestment plan, Air India strategic sale proposal

Joe C Mathew     June 11, 2019

Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), affiliate of BJP's ideological mentor RSS, has strongly opposed the plans of the central government to disinvest public sector airline, Air India.

The two day National Council meeting of SJM that ended on June 9 in Pune has resolved to urge the government to not go ahead with its plan to disinvest the subsidiaries of Air India. Instead, it wants the government to claim back the businesses of Air India subsidiaries given to private parties during the UPA regime and support them to further expand their businesses.

SJM points out that Air India, though making losses for several years, has substantially high intangible assets in the shape of international parking slots earned over the period due to diplomatic relationship with some of the important countries. It has a very big pool of highly qualified engineers as part of its work force too. Earlier attempts to disinvest these assets by strategic sale couldn't succeed due to public pressure including that of SJM, it notes. The group alleges that three wholly-owned subsidiaries of Air India, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL), Air India engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) and Alliance Air Services Ltd (AASL) are once again on disinvestment list.

AIATSL was formed with an aim to provide unified ground handling services (Ramp, Passenger and Baggage and Cargo Handling) at most of the airports in India under the brand name 'Air India Airport Services'. AIATSL is a market leader in India with a market share of 37 per cent, with huge earning and profitability, apart from providing their services to Air India at subsidised prices, SJM points out.

Similarly, the group terms AIESL as the biggest maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) set-up in India that serves as One-Stop-Shop for all engineering requirements of Air India. "AIESL has highly sophisticated equipment with technical staff which has hands-on experience. AIESL services all of the Air India aircrafts. Also, it has various international and domestic approvals from various bodies such as DGCA, DAA, EASA and ICAO. It has very large off sets provided by international aircraft manufacturing companies which are not reflected in books of the company," SJM resolution states.

On AASL, the group states that with operations of air services to 49 destinations with a fleet of 14 ATR 72-600 (70 Seater) and 2 ATR 42-320)  (48 Seater) aircrafts and flights operated mostly to Tier-2 and Tier-3 Cities, Alliance Air is backbone of Government's flagship programme "UDAAN" scheme.

"The survival of Air India, which is on turnaround path at this stage, depends on these three subsidiary companies. The government has revived its plans to sell these three profit-making Wholly Owned Subsidiaries (WOS) of Air India as strategic disinvestment. This move will not only result in creating further and deeper problems for Air India but also result in strategic engineering services, material handling services at air ports and air services to connect remote parts of the country under UDAAN scheme to jeopardy," the SJM says.

SJM has urged the government to rethink their recent proposals of disinvestment of 92 CPSEs, as suggested by NITI Aayog

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