The merger of state-owned carriers Air India Ltd and Indian Airlines Ltd into National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, or Nacil, which has been delayed by a month, is now likely to be announced this week, with the ministry ofcorporate affairs saying it has no major objection to the process, said two senior government officials familiar with the matter.
But the approval is likely to be challenged in court by worker unions.
The delay in the process of amalgamation of the two state-run airline companies into Nacil, registered in March, has stemmed from objections filed by the unions, officer guilds and former employees from both the airlines. Wage arrears, promotions and other related issues need to be resolved before the legal merger process gets under way, they told a ministry of corporate affairs seniorofficial, hearing their case, last month.
The ministry had, in turn, asked the airline managements to respond to worker queries. “An in-principle approval has come; a formal announcement is likely this week,” said a top official at the ministry of civil aviationpreferring to remain anonymous pending the formal announcement.
“They (ministry of corporate affairs officials) have said they have no major objection with the amalgamation,” said the second senior ministry of civil aviation official who, too, did not want to be named.
A senior Air India official maintained the merger would cover all the concerns raised by worker unions.
“The scheme of merger itself provide for adequate protection of the unions’ interest whether settled or not by the erstwhile companies,” he said. “And there have been various case laws on this subject.”
One of the prime concerns of the Indian Airlines unions has been whether they would be ‘recognized’ by Nacil management.
“Like the new company, union nomenclature will also change. You can’t have two pilot unions. They need to come together. There is a recognition process to be followed in any large merger. The same process will be done all over again,” the Air Indiaofficial said.
A union leader said hisunion had not received any formal communication and is waiting for an announcement by the government beforedeciding on its future courseof action. “Something should have come to us in writing. But nothing has (yet),” said Rohan Kailasam, president of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association. “We will have no choice but to go to the courts for further redressal.”