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Opposition To AI Divestment

Sun Aug 13, 2000 2:53 pm

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Photo © Konstantin Von Wedelstaedt

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Photo © K S Down

The IFEA, an organisation that represents Indian Flight Engineers has also formally expressed their disapproval of the AI sale to a foreign partner.

This comes after negative remarks from most of AI staffers. Infact the Association of AI pilots and cabin crew have announced plans to bid for the airline themselves to prevent takeover by a foreign partner. I think this move is unprecedented in the history of aviation. Imagine the staff bidding for managerial control of the airline!

The IFEA in a press release said that the world over, including Australia, NZ etc, there was a cap of 25% as regards to foreign equity so why should it be different for india.

Another argument being raised is that of security. Airlines are regarded as a 'second-air force'. In the 1962 war with China, many IC aircraft were used for airlifting troops and supplies.

In the Gulf War in 1992, India had announced its neutrality and decided to to withdraw all Indian citizens numbering over a million from the Gulf region. The state-owned AI then went on to organise the biggest airlift in history breaking many world records in the process (Over 1.5 lakh people were airlifted to safety in a week). Would a foreign (esp. American) management allow its planes to be used on such missions, they argue.

There are generally 2 groups of people opposing the current process of divestment. One group opposes any kind of divestment in the immediate future, and says that AI wont fetch the right price now, when its profitability is at its lowest. The second group, is the 'Swadeshi-Lobby' which says that divestment must only be open for Indian partners.

Could someone comment on the divestment process at BA? After all the overall administrative structure in both India and the UK is pretty much the same, and knowledge about how BA managed to go thru the divestment process would definitely enlighten us here.

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