Govt mulls absorbing AI employees in PSUs

Govt mulls absorbing AI employees in PSUs

Govt mulls absorbing AI employees in PSUs

The government is exploring options of absorbing Air India employees in public sector enterprises and voluntary retirement package, as it moves ahead with the airline's disinvestment amid stiff opposition from worker unions, sources said.

While FDI of up to 49% has been allowed in the debt-laden carrier, efforts are on to ensure a smooth strategic disinvestment and a group of ministers is weighing various options.

Air India, estimated to have a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore, is staying afloat on taxpayers' money and the divestment plan is aimed at reviving the airline's fortunes.

Sources in the know said the government is mulling providing airline employees the option of joining public sector companies. The possibility of having a VRS package is also under consideration, sources said, while adding that a final decision is yet to be made.

"Various options are under consideration to protect the interests of the employees," Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said.

His response came to queries on whether the government is looking at giving Air India employees the option to join public sector firms, apart from extending VRS package.

Air India and its subsidiaries have around 29,000 employees, including those on contract.

A group of ministers is in the process of finalising the modalities for the proposed strategic stake sale and expression of interest is likely to be invited from bidders soon.

On January 10, the government allowed overseas entities, including foreign airlines, to own up to 49% stake under the approval route in Air India subject to certain conditions.

"Substantial ownership and effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in an Indian national," the government had said.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had said permitting 49% FDI in Air India brings the airline at par with other domestic carriers and does away with the preferential treatment that was extended to the carrier.