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Will take time for AI turnaround: Vayalar Ravi
Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 23 (IANS):
Published on 24 Jan. 2011 12:27 AM IST
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New Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi Sunday said it will not be an easy task to swing around Air India in a short period.
Speaking to the media here on his first visit to the Kerala capital after taking over the aviation portfolio, Ravi said he has been busy in the past few days holding discussions with the objective of bringing back “the lost glory” of the national carrier. “There is no doubt that there are issues because things have not fallen in place as they should have following the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines. I have decided that before I start to do anything, I will have discussions with all stakeholders, ranging from the various unions besides the cabin crew, pilots guild, the finance sections and others,” said Ravi.
“I do not wish to give a time frame to you with regard to putting back Air India to the place it should be because if I say so then you, the media will be after me once the period gets over. Please give me a little time because there are a good number of issues that have to be sorted out,” he added.
Ravi was, however, non-committal if there was going to be a Voluntary Retirement Scheme programme for its employees.
“One of the biggest problem is the shortage of aircraft that Air India is facing, and among the other issues that have to be looked into is the routing aspect and the fare structures in comparison with other private airlines,” added Ravi.
He, however, ruled out a revamp of the present open air policy of the government.
“The private sector plays a crucial role and we are not one that will discourage them. Employee motivation is one area that will be given a lot of importance,” said Ravi, adding that he is well aware of the various issues because on numerous occasions in the past he himself has taken them up with the civil aviation officials.
He also said that he will definitely take up the issue of levying airport user fee at the new airports in the country.
The National Aviation Company of India -- the parent company of the Air India brand -- suffered losses to the tune of Rs.5,551 crore in 2009-10, in addition to the loss of Rs.7,189 crore in the previous year.
Earlier, the government had infused equity worth Rs.800 crore in February 2010 and another dose of Rs.1,200 crore last month to tide over the crisis and finance the fleet acquisition plan of 111 aircraft ordered from Boeing and Airbus in 2006.
The aviation portfolio was previously held by Praful Patel, as a minister of state with independent charge, since the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in May 2004. Patel has been given charge of heavy industries.

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