On the business side, the potential disinvestment of Air India (AI) generated lot of discussion and debate during last month. Tata had pioneered the aviation in the country with the establishment of Tata Airlines in 1932, which was rebranded into Air India 14 years later and finally nationalized in 1953. If the Tata’s buy the national carrier, it will return back to the original owner. But the same owner now does not want to buy AI in the present form because it has a liability (or bad baggage) of Rs. 50000 crores (~ $8B). It is a sorry thing to see, the Maharajah (or the Royal King) of the sky, the proud crown jewel in the past, finding it so difficult to find any buyers today. Air India, in the present form, represents a company that lacks the right leadership to take the company out of the woods. A string of poor decision, sudden acquisition of 68 aircraft at an estimated cost of Rs. 40,000 crore (in 2003-04) and the hasty decision to merge Indian Airlines with Air India in 2007 are cited by experts as the top factors that led AI to this situation. In terms of passenger perception, there are big problems too.
The facilities, like the in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness, amenities, in-flight services, when compared to other private carriers falls on the wrong side of the comparison. Around the world, there about 120 staff for every aircraft. Air India has 256. This reinforces the stereo types we usually have, that government organization and profitable balance sheets cannot coexist – unless it is the government taking away profit. The root cause for such things stems from the fact that, in a government run organization, there are often too many political intervention and there is a culture lack of customer focus and accountability and also lack of transformative leadership. However, not all the government organization are run like that. The Public Sector Undertaking (esp. the Navratna PSU’s) while government owned have been awarded additional financial autonomy, and hence they are relatively better placed to perform well and compete globally. So if you are one of those leaders (or Project Manager) working or going to work in a company/function, that has inherited a financial baggage, is overstaffed, is exposed to too much of political interference and saddled with a culture of unaccountability and poor customer focus, then you are up against a huge challenge to steer your company/function towards growth and profitability. You need to strategically address each of the factors with your leadership skills to turn around your company or function and make it profitable.
Soumen De, PMP
Technology Support : : Ramesh Chandra Pathak, PMP
Murali Santhanam, PMP
Rama K, PMP, PMI-ACP
Shikha Vaidh, PMP, PMI-ACP
Soumen De, PMP
Sujata Sahu, PMP