It seems like the Central Government is looking to make things easier for the new owner of Air India (AI). By hiving off excess aircraft lying grounded, the new owner of the carrier may be able to trim the national carrier’s fleet size. It is known to all that air travel is still restricted due to the pandemic and the skies are not clear. Due to this, the new owner may also be permitted to discharge employees as their requirement will reduce with the drop in the fleet size. This could be the government’s way of assisting the new owner. This is because the prevailing rules of the airline’s disinvestment command that the new owner will have to assure employment to all staff up to one year.
Nevertheless, for better management, Air India’s new owner may be permitted to trim fleet as well as lay off employees. As planes remained grounded amid lockdowns, the Covid-19 pandemic has already compelled airlines globally to let go of some of their workforce. Air India has 133 employees per aircraft. Air India Express, on the other hand, has 55 employees per aircraft. Air India has an overall fleet of 121 aircraft which consists of 43 wide-body Boeing 777s and 787s, and 78 narrow-body Airbus A320s. According to some sources, since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the 25-plus narrow-body aircraft and 15 wide-body aircraft have been lying idle. This has killed the demand.
As of now, in the domestic sector, Air India is running almost 68 per cent of its pre-Covid capacity. Air India has outstanding debt of Rs 23,286 crore after the government brought it down from Rs 62,000 crore earlier this year. The central government did this to make the airline more attractive to probable buyers.