Air India hires expensive publicist ahead of sell-off

Among the financial decisions under question are upgrading the flight dispatch section at the IGI Airport in Delhi and painting the names of tourist destinations on the airplane flying between Delhi and Toronto

IANS
Updated29 Oct 2019, 07:39 PM IST
Staying afloat on taxpayers' money, the airline is slated for disinvestment with a group of ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah working on the contours of the sell-off
Staying afloat on taxpayers’ money, the airline is slated for disinvestment with a group of ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah working on the contours of the sell-off(Photo: Bloomberg)

Months before its proposed sell-off, loss-laden Air India's certain expenses have caught the attention of vigilant insiders.

Among the financial decisions under question are upgrading the flight dispatch section at the IGI Airport in Delhi and painting the names of tourist destinations on the airplane flying between Delhi and Toronto.

Terming the expenses unavoidable in the wake of imminent disinvestment and its precarious financial health, an executive red-flagged the airline management's decision to bring an outside publicist on the rolls while it has a full-fledged Corporate Communication Department.

He pointed out that the public relations (PR) executive gets more salary than many senior officials.

Sources said that Air India has a 7-member Corporate Communication team with executives at all crucial levels.

Interestingly, the PR executive has donned the role of Air India official spokesperson as and when Ashwani Lohani has been at the helm as airline chief.

Specific email queries on the issues sent on October 19 from IANS did not elicit any response from the airline. The queries had been sent to the Corporate Communication Department as well as the airline chief on their official emails.

An official, however, defended the airline's decision pertaining to recent expenses.

"We needed to make seating arrangements for more people as flight numbers have now gone up. This required us to increase the area of the section. We have limited space. From the operations point of view, we needed to do this," he said.

He justified painting names of tourist destination on its jet saying it coincided with the World Tourism Day.

The airline is learnt to have spent few lakhs on putting the names of tourist destinations on its plane.

Staying afloat on taxpayers' money, the airline is slated for disinvestment with a group of ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah working on the contours of the sell-off.

The UPA-II government had in 2012 cleared a 30,000 crore bail-out package spread over 10 years to keep the airline flying.

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First Published:29 Oct 2019, 07:39 PM IST
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