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Air India crisis: Employees of ailing national carrier's ground-handling subsidiary likely to get December salaries by next week

FP Staff

Amid efforts to privatise debt-laden Air India, its employees of the ground handling arm, AIATSL, are likely to get their salaries by next week.

A staff notice issued by Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL) on Monday said, "We regret to inform the delay in payment of salaries for the month of December 2019 due to circumstances beyond the control of management."

However, AIATSL said that all efforts are being made to make the payment at the earliest or by next week, reported PTI.

Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani had on 4 January said that 'rumours' of the disinvestment-bound airline's shutdown were 'all baseless'.

Lohani's remarks came weeks after he told the Civil Aviation Ministry that the carrier's financial situation was 'grossly untenable' for sustaining operations.

While Air India's net loss in 2018-19 was around Rs 8,556 crore, its current total debt is around Rs 80,000 crore.

Early this month, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had reassured Air India employees that the passenger carrier would remain operational till its privatisation process was complete.

The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA), one of the unions that was present in the meeting, said that all the Unions opposed privatisation but the minister stated that the government did not have funds to infuse into Air India.

Early this month, a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah had approved the Expression of Interest (EoI) as well as the share purchase agreement for Air India's privatisation, a senior government official said.

Shah heads the panel looking after the divestment process. Its other members include Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and the Civil Aviation Minister.

Early this month, Puri had said that the government had no option but to privatise Air India as it has around Rs 80,000-crore debt and needed the cooperation of the employees for carrying out the privatisation process.

Assuring the Air India employees of not taking away their jobs, the national carrier in November last year had said that it would give one-year job protection to its employees amid efforts are underway to privatise the loss-making national carrier.

Over 11,000 employees of the debt-laden Air India will be offered employment guarantee for a period of one year as employee issues of state-run companies are of concern to buyers in the wake of high employee costs and low productivity.

€" With PTI inputs

Also See: Air India privatisation: Govt approves EoI, share purchase agreement for national carrier's sale

Weeks after calling Air India's financial situation untenable, CMD Ashwani Lohani calls rumours of shutdown 'baseless'

Air India privatisation: IndiGo, Etihad show interest in ailing national carrier; govt likely to come up with EoI next month

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