A joint forum of Air India employees and staff unions has sought a Rs 50,000 crore financial succour from the government for the national carrier, stating that the airline is a necessity for the country.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Joint Forum said that Air India is a "necessity" for the country, especially in times of crises, and a financial package will not only help the flag carrier but also the entire aviation sector and the economy.
The prime minister earlier this month announced a Rs 20 lakh crore package, which combined the government's earlier announcements on supporting key sectors as also measures rolled out by the Reserve Bank of India, to help revive the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
Leading rating agencies have forecast the Indian economy to contract by 5 per cent in the current fiscal due to the impact of the crisis.
"We thank you for the financial package of Rs 20 lakh crores to boost industry and the economy. As you will agree that civil aviation is of paramount importance in today's context and therefore it is extremely necessary to boost the aviation industry and restore normal operations at the earliest, which is crucial for the economy to stabilise.
"In view of this, we request you to kindly grant Air India a financial package of Rs 50,000 crore which will go a long way in ensuring that Air India emerges as the strongest and best airline of India," the Joint Forum said in the letter.
Stating that Air India has once again played a crucial role for the nation by bringing back stranded Indians from all parts of the world including several offline stations at a time when airlines all over the world had ceased operations due to the pandemic, the Forum said that the carrier "even at peak of the COVID 19 pandemic operated flights to and from Wuhan which is the origin and centre point of the coronavirus."
Besides, Air India staff went out of the way at considerable "personal risk" to ensure smooth operations of several cargo and charter flights all through this period thereby facilitating the smooth movement of medicines and medical equipment between India and many other countries including China, it said.
Air India has always performed national duties irrespective of the serious risks involved, it said adding it has been established beyond doubt that Air India is a necessity for the country especially in times of crises.