AI, AI merger failed to achieve target: Patel

“The merger did not succeed due to failure in the information technology integration,” Patel said in the Rajya Sabha responding to a debate on the national carrier’s financial crisis.

This is possibly the first admission from the minister on the failure of the merger of the national carrier as he has always taken a positive stand on the issue. Emphasising that it would have been difficult for Air India or Indian Airlines to face the increased competition all alone, Patel said: “The merger could have worked better. It’s not fully to our satisfaction.”

Failure in the IT integration –– synergising the ticket reservation system in domestic and international carriers—was highlighted as the most crucial factor behind the failure of the merger though other operational and human resource issues were also played their part.

However, defending the merger and ignoring the Opposition demand for a joint parliamentary probe on the Air India crisis, Patel said a turn-around committee comprising representatives from the management and unions would look into the areas of cost reduction, including closure of all offline officers and reduction of employees at foreign stations.

Supporting rationalisation of manpower, he said the airlines would carry out large scale re-deployment of staff to curb infructous expenditure and initiate productivity-linked incentives. The carrier has 32,000 employees. The Centre, however, does not have any plans to disinvest Air India, he said.

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