There is a pattern behind these baseless stories being spread about Air India and its for a reason.
We had a big discussion on this very thread about 19 aircraft being grounded. Note how the lines went silent when I asked them to back up the rants with evidence of 19 aircraft being grounded. Classic hit & run tactics to denigrate airlines like AI & Jet.
They will be back in a week with the same discussion. And then run when asked to back up with evidence. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I started off noting this was a false letter.
As to aircraft grounded, how come AI has so many down for maintenance? How many? It seems excessive?
I've worked aerospace engineering to have aircraft available at a high rate. The 787 for example is designed to have system monitoring to minimize hanger time. A moderate C-check now takes days. A heavy C 10 days. There is a pattern of AI not performing at industry standard.
My experience is a lack of benchmarks is indicative of poor performance. AI should start doing quarterly reports.
But the reality is they are needing more and more investment and that alone will drive speculation. There is quite a bit of evidence AI is not managed well (their financial needs are enough).
When you miss paying salary on time 5 months in a row, employees get panicky and that gets into the news. It is always a competition for government funds which... creates drama.
Evidence is incredibly hard to find on Air India. Good or bad. When you cannot find the good evidence, you loose the benefit of the doubt.
Did they announce they would miss paying leases beforehand with a plan? No
Did they announce they would miss a single months payroll with a plan? No
When a company continually does wrong and is caught, they lose the benefit of the doubt.
This isn't just bad PR, but Air India isn't guiltless. Business is built on timely payment of obligations by all parties.
They need to clean up their act and be a business (make a profit) so the financial entertainment goes elsewhere.
The bad bank is a great idea to make that happen.
Why isn't AI doing their own PR?
Do a PR campaign on changes to improve frequency, service (even if just an advertisement campaign), reduce costs, and make life easier for customers.
Perhaps start an automation drive to cut costs (e.g, have a team look into the functionality of Delta's phone app).
Seriously, the company just asked for $1.6 billion USD from a government of low salary nation. That is a need for a little more than a dollar from every man woman and child of India. That is going to stir up stories when people cannot understand why.
Until there is a very clear path forward, they cannot win the PR battle. But from recent press releases from the GoI, Air India has been tasked with delivering a turn around plan.
As noted from a very astute poster:
What I have unable to reconcile is the failure of the sale process.
Filter out all the fluff. For government working, the people i.e. bureaucrats and politicians have to be aligned and the environment should allow for the action to be taken and sold to the public.
(A) If we look at the people.
1. The Civil Aviation Secretary was eyeing the Cabinet Secretary position. A successful sale would have almost guaranteed catapulted him in to the job of the highest ranking bureaucrat in the land.
2. The Minister Jayanth Sinha is no fool. And he is a master when it comes to financial services and investment banking. He would have known onerous terms when he saw them.
I.E. No opposition from either the bureaucracy or politicos.
(B) The environment
1. The Tatas were all set to take AI. If you see the time-line, the terms and conditions were modified to suit them.
2. The government, and most especially Civil Aviation ministry, knew/know they need to jettison AI. So does Finance Ministry.
3. At Civil Aviation Ministry it is all UDAN UDAN UDAN now. Jettisoning AI frees up funds and resources for UDAN.
With all these favourables, how were the terms suddenly made so onerous that all the bidders walked away from the offer? Where, when, and why did this tinkering occur? Even the bidders knew, there simply wasn't enough time for a second round which could have driven down valuations, so that is not an option.
What the heck happened behind the scenes?
I can't explain what made a done deal fall apart other than AI had far more debt than realized.
I am afraid UDAN is in danger for the funding for AI must come from somewhere.