Friday, June 19, 2009

Air India seeks employees' help in 'fight for survival'

A day after Air India asked its top executives to forgo their salary for July, the chairman and managing director of the state-run carrier, Arvind Jadhav, Saturday appealed to all staff to "rise up to the challenge" and help the airline in its "fight for survival".

In a letter to each employee, Jadhav has said that in view of the global crisis, all airlines have been experiencing low fares, poor load factors, drop in premium travel, decline in cargo load and low yields.

Despite the hardships in the industry, Air india has not taken any harsh steps like pay cuts and job cuts so far, Jadhav pointed out.

"Employees have been receiving their wages, salaries every month even when people in the industry have lost jobs or seen emoluments take a dip. We should consider ourselves fortunate that we have been insulated from the adverse impact of the economic meltdown so far," Jadhav said.

His letter comes at a time when the employees of the carrier have called for an indefinite strike from July 1 if the management delays their salaries.

The company, struggling to cope with a cash crunch, had earlier announced that it will defer its employees' salaries of June by two weeks. It has also asked the top executives above general manager level to forego their compensation for July.

"As loans from financial institutions at high interest rates cannot be availed of endlessly to meet working capital expenditure, the time has come for us to face the moment of truth. This is an hour of crisis for us all and it is a fight for survival," Jadhav said.

The company has already requested the government to infuse funds by way of equity and soft loans and is hopeful that it would come soon, he added.

Jadhav also warned of the impact of suggestions for disinvestment or privatisation of Air India.

He urged each and every employee to "rise up to the challenge" and demonstrate their ability to overcome the crisis and emerge with flying colours.

Jadhav said the management was in dialogue with employees' unions to apprise them of the difficult financial situation confronting the aviation industry and the airline in particular.

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