AN Indian government ordinance, issued Saturday, has repealed the country's 40-year-old Air Corporation Act, ending the monopoly status of Air India and Indian Airlines. The ordinance places the public airlines on a par with private airlines that have mushroomed in the past two years.
The two carriers will now be free to go to the public to raise capital and will no longer be dependent on government funding, said Civil Aviation Secretary S. Kanungo. The ordinance is aimed at ``demonopolizing'' the aviation sector and restructuring the airlines, he added.
The powerful unions, caught by surprise by the sudden ordinance, denounced the move, while the largest private airline welcomed it. The unions have been fearful of moves toward privatization and fiercely protective of the monopoly status of Air India, the country's international carrier and Indian Airlines, its domestic counterpart.
``The measure is not going to be healthy,'' a spokesman for the Indian Commercial Pilots Association said, adding that private ``air taxi'' services would benefit by cornering plum routes and ignoring unprofitable destinations. But the national carriers have to ``fulfill socioeconomic duties'' and fly even unprofitable routes, he added.