SP Guide Publications puts forth a well compiled articulation of issues, pursuits and accomplishments of the Indian Army, over the years

— General Manoj Pande, Indian Army Chief

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— Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Indian Navy Chief

My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

— Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Indian Air Force Chief

Save Air India, Go Private

Issue: 04-2009By Air Marshal (Retd) B.K. PandeyIllustration(s): By 259.jpg

A headache, under normal circumstances, would hardly warrant lopping off the head. The sorry state of affairs in Air India (AI), however, apparently necessitates such drastic measures. Reportedly peeved by AI’s steady decline, the government on April 24 removed Raghu Menon from the post of Chairman of the state-owned National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), replacing him with Arvind Jadhav, a 1978 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. Media reports indicate that although Menon was due to retire in 2011, he had for some time been contemplating stepping down from his post prematurely on account of a variety of reasons, foremost being the sordid mess the airline is in.

As is often the case when bureaucrats are removed for inability to produce results for whatever reason, the impact and ensuing embarrassment are masked by transferring the affected individual to some other lucrative post. In this case, Menon is a candidate for the top post in the proposed Airport Economic Regulatory Authority.

An IAS officer of 1974 batch, Menon seconded to the Nagaland Cadre, was appointed Chairman, NACIL in April 2008. He took over the reins at a time when AI was battling on several fronts for survival. Despite the then cumulative loss, believed to be over a staggering Rs 2,000 crore ($400 million), NACIL had embarked on a major programme for restructuring. The airline had obtained government approval to induct 111 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft in a phased manner to replace the ageing airplanes in its fleet. NACIL was also vigorously lobbying for a hefty bailout package from the government to remain viable. The airline had also embarked on expansion of international operations while struggling with the process of integration of the two stateowned formerly independent entities, AI and Indian. Integrating the two airlines that were operating at opposite ends of the sophistication spectrum was proving to be a daunting challenge. But perhaps the most potent threat to its well-being was the increasing competition from both the domestic and international carriers. Besides, only a week into his tenure, Menon was confronted with the rather embarrassing episode of a Member of Parliament being unceremoniously evicted by the Captain of an international AI flight for boarding late at Calicut and holding up the aircraft.