By – Rahul Kumar, Senior Journalist, and Media Columnist
Once Air India known as a Maharaja is currently bleeding and there no taker for the ailing airline in India and abroad. The respective governments, as well as the bureaucrats, are responsible for the worst situation of Air India. Air India can be taken out of this economic dilemma if the Minister of Civil Aviation with the help of the Ministry of Civil Aviation introduce drastic measures. For this, Mr. Suresh Prabhu has to show a political will for which he is already known in the political spectrum.
Transfers and Postings
As everyone knows that transfers and postings are the financial liability especially for the sick unit in any industry. Despite the huge economic debt, domestic and foreign transfers and postings are taking place in Air India. As is well known Air India staff is posted in Dubai, UK, USA, Canada. On the condition of anonymity, a Commercial Manager with Air India told that ‘foreign positing’s entail huge economic burden on Air India. Roughly speaking, a staff posted at a foreign destination cost Air India more than 30 lakhs in a year. To get a foreign posting, Air India staff either approach Prime Minister Office or pay sometimes bribe to a middleman.
There is no check or balance in the medical unit of Air India. Air India`s medical dispensary is full of sick retried employees. A medical staff revealed that retired people take medicines in bulk in connivance with the medical staff. He also revealed that when retired people go to visit their son or daughter in a foreign country they take bundles of medicines with them free of cost. He also told that there is huge pilferage of medicines in Air India. The majority of the retired people also get free medicine for their children. This is all done in connivance with the medical doctor or dispensary staff who are either known to the retired people or charge some extra money to get an additional prescription written by the doctor.
Working or retired employees of Air India are eligible for 16 free air tickets i.e. eight for domestic and eight for international destinations. What is happening now that retired people are either sick or are unable to travel long distances by Air so their married children with their spouses avail this facility of free passage for honeymooning? Air India staff working at the international terminal revealed that married children enjoy free passage by going to destinations such as Thailand, USA, Switzerland, and other sightseeing international destinations. Some of the married children of retired employees use these free air ticket to do business in foreign countries. Air India staff also revealed that children of retired employees get multiple visas for foreign countries. They avail this free air ticket to go to a foreign country and stay and work in that country for a few months and come back to India. Children of the retired employees save a lot of money on the air ticket.
We need to learn from foreign airlines how they work and how they stopped all types of pilferages. Some of the drastic steps can be taken to prevent a lockout of Air India such as stop transfers and postings domestic as well as foreign, outsource staff at the foreign destinations; stop the international free tickets to the retired employees; fix an amount of Rs 10,000 in the year for medical reimbursement. Now the ball is in the court of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India. Mr. Suresh Prabhu, an honest politician, and dynamic administrator has to show courage and implement these drastic measures without delay.