Air Indian

Imagine a restaurant where the number of employees exceeds the number of seats. Would be a very expensive restaurant indeed. Now imagine an airline where the number of employees exceeds the the number of seats. Actually, you don’t have to imagine that one as India has two such airlines where all the employees cannot be seated in the planes simultaneously. When the two state-run airlines merge shortly, they will have about 132 airplanes — my estimate is around 20,000 seats — and 35,000 employees.

Of course those airlines are costly. The losses are paid for by Indians who don’t even fly because what goes down the tubes as operating losses are not available for other purposes.

I don’t see what business the state has to be in the commercial airline business. But then, what do I know. I don’t understand what it means for the politicians to have their own private airlines. I don’t comprehend the thrill that comes from spending tax-payer money on a whim. Such as changing the name from Indian Airlines to Indian and then repainting the entire fleet of 70 or so planes for tens of crores of rupees just before they merge it and have to repaint the whole fleet a few months down the line.

If your politicians need their own private airline to keep themselves entertained, you might be a Third World country.

16 thoughts on “Air Indian

  1. Myke Thursday February 22, 2007 / 6:20 pm

    Gadfly bites politicians! 🙂

    Like

  2. Aparna Thursday February 22, 2007 / 6:33 pm

    I was quite surprised to see this headline in the paper today.. havent got the chance to read the entire article, but, i guess, you summed it up! M&As are such a tricky job, and somehow, of all that I’ve seen, there is no right way of doing it, many wrong ones though! 🙂

    Like

  3. Vinayak Hebbagil Thursday February 22, 2007 / 8:37 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with you.Government ‘utilizes’ hard-earned tax payers’ money conveniently for their own needs and political ambitions.And over staffing is present to guarantee ’employment’ while productive growth is largely ignored.

    Like

  4. ysrinivas Thursday February 22, 2007 / 9:09 pm

    No one cuts their nose to spite the face. It is only now that domestic Airlines are going in routes which may not be commercially viable. A friend, flying from Shillong to New Delhi, told me the National Carrier invariably has the most regular flights and cheapest fares.Changing names, getting new colors,and the merger are attempts(even if half baked) to get more professional. I agree more needs to be done, but I think AI and IA as budget airlines, like the BSNL in rural areas, are leading the way for a Private Sector solely driven by profits. Most people are aware that we are a third world country, and getting Politicians to travel in Private Airlines will not solve that immediately.

    Like

  5. Ashish Gupta Thursday February 22, 2007 / 9:49 pm

    I agree in general but whenever I think of eliminating national carriers, I think of their use in calamities like in Tsunami, Afghanistan, etc. I wonder if it is possible to get private career to fly so many sorties on such short notice and work tireless even if you pay the market price. And if it is, perhaps market price by definition will account for, would savings in not having these careers be lost in costs associated in disaster management operations. That however, does not eliminate the case for making these airlines more efficient.

    Like

  6. Guru Gulab Khatri Thursday February 22, 2007 / 10:48 pm

    Heres the response youll get from a lot of folks…
    India is a nation of 85% oppressed and we must find jobs for them, so indian airlines is doing the right thing.
    This along with the inheritance tax and unemployment insurance is the right step for india.

    Ashish
    Private Airlines can be contracted or even commandeered in case of emergency as has happened else where,
    Besides Just what the F is the military for. They maintain Aircrafts to deploy soldiers which can be used for evacuation if needed.
    Check what happened in the kabailiyon ka hamla episode during partition on kashmir.
    Private airlines were used to fly soldiers into kashmir.

    Like

  7. Graham Johnson Friday February 23, 2007 / 12:47 am

    My own experience during January as a passenger on a range of domestic Indian airlines confirmed for me that Indian Airlines trailed the field by a long way in passenger service. It reminded me of the days in Australia before the then government owned airline was sold. Poor service, poor staff attitudes, apparent disregard for costs, etc.

    Like

  8. ram Friday February 23, 2007 / 1:29 am

    A small correction needed in your post, in airline industry, number of seats are calculated differently. It is not just the total number of seats in all the aircraft they own. It needs to be mulitplied by the number of trips aircraft is used.
    I guess IA+AI have large under utilized aircrafts. In most airlines, aircraft is in operation 24hrs a day, stopping only for routine maintaince.

    Like

  9. Ashish Gupta Friday February 23, 2007 / 5:48 am

    “Private Airlines can be contracted or even commandeered in case of emergency”

    And at that point people will protest property rights of private airlines.

    Regarding Military, they do their duty to best of their capability I think. Andman & Nicobar comes to mind in aftermath of Tsunami. However, if they have capacity to do what A-I did in wars (names escape me) then I think you would be right.

    Like

  10. shiva Friday February 23, 2007 / 9:36 am

    Politicians (and bureaucrats) are big time users of air services. Air crew and ground crew have pampered these scoundrels so much that it is well nigh impossible to get most of the lazy employees to move their bulk and actually do something useful. That said there are any number of people who work extremely hard, but their efficiency is in marked contrast to the utter disregard exhibited by the rest.

    Like

  11. Aditya Athalye Friday February 23, 2007 / 1:33 pm

    heyy the sarkari boys want to be in on the m&a bubble game too 🙂

    Like

  12. Guru Gulab Khatri Friday February 23, 2007 / 9:05 pm

    “Private Airlines can be contracted or even commandeered in case of emergency”

    And at that point people will protest property rights of private airlines.

    No not if it was an indira gandhi style emergency. And dont get me started on Sanjay Gandhis defination(which included stealing a car cause he could).

    And note if contracted no one will complain.

    Most of the time its easy to contract.
    Just see what US did during WWII for shifting production away from consumer automobiles to military vehicles and contrast that with UK and Germany during the same period.

    Like

  13. Venkat Tuesday February 27, 2007 / 5:12 pm

    They want to create an airline which will *rival* SIA or Emirates, lollllzzzzzzzz

    Like

  14. Palaniappan Thursday March 8, 2007 / 1:05 am

    First and foreomst people should understand that the policies of country had crippled the Govt.Airlines.The fleet revamp, recruitment, postings, transfers, basic infrastructural development,faulty payment structure were the real reasons for these Airlines to perform not so well. Today people compare it with the new Airline companies and criticise PSU cos. But at same time how many occassions when u face a problem with private cos had been properly addressed should be brought out. Lack of efficency and not operating with profit motives should looked in the larger percpective of the bureacratic setup and the hold which they do not want do away. Now with RTI being in place why don’t people try and assess data why the fleet replacement took such a long time?, and type of fleet selection for PSu cos had been taking such a long time. Why people always look down the Public sector at the same time keep mum against the Private sector s exploitative methods need to be looked into? then the tax burden on aam admi could be properly addressed.

    Like

Comments are closed.