Govt to discuss compensation issue on Dreamliners: Ajit
Arakkonam: The issue of compensation package to be paid by Boeing to Air India for the delay in delivery of Dreamliners is expected to go before the Cabinet in the next five to 10 days, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said on Saturday.
"... It has to be approved by the Cabinet. In that process, we have to take comment from every ministry. Some ministries have not given comment, some have raised some questions... I think within next five to 10 days, it should go to the Cabinet," he told reporters after reviewing the Passing Out Parade of the new inducted CISF personnel at the Regional Training Centre near here.
As soon as the matter was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, three of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes were ready for delivery in the plants of the American manufacturer Boeing, he said in reply to questions.
Singh also said that there were enough pilots already trained to fly the three new aircraft.
Before being launched on international routes, the Dreamliner would be flown within the country for a few months, so that pilots get practical training on crucial functions like take-offs and landings.
Air India had two years ago sought a USD 710 million compensation package for the delay. Following this, several rounds of negotiations between the airline and Boeing took place. In the last week of May, AI Board agreed on the package from Boeing and sent it for approval by the government.
The national carrier had placed orders for 27 B-787s in 2005 and, as per the original schedule, Boeing was to have commenced delivery from September 2008 but failed to do so due to several factors, ranging from delays in supply of spares from other parts of the world to strike in the Boeing plant.
To a question on the abrupt removal of former DGCA E K Bharat Bhushan, the minister said it was "a totally administrative action" and had nothing to do with Kingfisher Airlines.
The removal of Bhushan has "nothing to do with discord between Congress and RLD or Kingfisher. Kingfisher is being checked for the last six months. And if there is any safety concern, nobody can compromise on that, (be it the) previous DGCA or the new DGCA. And if there are any comments, the new DGCA has to take them up," the minister said.
He said Bhushan was holding additional charge of the post of DGCA for 18 months and the name for a regular DGCA had been sent to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
"We sent the names two months ago. And the whole point was that there was no ACC clearance (for Bhushan) for the last seven months," Singh said.
On the situation in Air India after the recent 58-day strike by its pilots, he said "I don't think the issue (of strike) is there anymore. The strike is over.. We have made a committee to implement Dharmadhikari report" on integration of the staff of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India post- merger.
He said the Dharmadhikari Committee has recommended that the pay-scales of most sections of the employees would be in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Public Enterprises.
"But in case of some employees of the airlines (pilots, cabin crew and engineers), we have to give them these facilities in line with the industry norms. So, for that, we have to go to the Cabinet," Singh said.
Observing that Air India had set up a three-member committee to implement the Dharmadhikari guidelines, he said "their report should come in about a month's time from now."
He said the committee was holding discussions with all concerned, including unions and sections of staff, on the implementation of the Dharmadhikari recommendations and anomalies which might arise out of it.