A parliamentary panel’s call, in its draft report, to postpone the privatization of Air India by five years is another misguided attempt to prevent the government’s stake sale. The draft report expressed displeasure with implementation of the turnaround plan (TAP), and cited concern over potential layoffs should the privatization go through.

But the beleaguered airline has failed to meet the conditions laid down in the TAP and has Rs51,890 crore in debt and more than Rs50,000 crore of accumulated losses. In financial year 2016, Air India’s losses amounted to more than a quarter of the total loss made by all of India’s public sector units.

NITI Aayog has rightly called the industry a non-priority sector that has a mature and competitive market for which more support is unviable.

It doesn’t augur well for an aspiring market economy that the government should provide goods that competitive markets can provide effectively. The airline needs better management so as to not be a burden on the country’s finances.

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