Ahead of opening bids, Air India imposes restrictions on employees on premises

While the Centre has removed the January 5 deadline for announcing shortlisted bidders for the national carrier Air India, an internal order has restricted Air India employees’ access to their workplace.

The disinvestment of Air India may be further delayed since the Centre has decided to remove the January 5 deadline to announce the shortlisted bidders for the national carrier. This was announced in a corrigendum issued by the department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM). The transaction advisor will now directly intimate the shortlisted parties, said DIPAM. The new communication came a day after civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said the government would announce the shortlisted bidders on January 5.

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Meanwhile, according to an internal order dated December 30, 2020, Air India not only restricted its serving employees access to their workplace by saying they may only come to the office during their duty hours, but also said only bona fide users could access documents. The order further stated retired employees would be allowed only till the ground floor of the airline’s office premises. Visitors will be allowed after visitor passes are issued and are only permitted for officers at the director level. The order asked employees to meet personal and official guests in meeting or conference rooms on the ground floor.

The airline will thus have entry records for Air India employees as well as those for employees of its subsidiary companies who enter the premises during office hours.

In the internal order, signed by Air India’s chairman and managing director Rajiv Bansal, the special cell and disinvestment cell are mentioned and employees are directed to be alert since the disinvestment process is ongoing. “All employees at the airline’s house are required to maintain absolute data/ document privacy and absolute zero tolerance in data/ document leakage,” said the order. Employees have been asked to ensure their identity cards are on display during duty hours. “Security personnel shall allow entry to only those employees who display their Identity Cards,” reads the order.

In the first stage of Air India’s disinvestment process, expressions of interest (EoI) were invited between December 14 and December 29, 2020. Potential buyers would have to take on Air India’s Rs 23,000-crore debt and would be shortlisted based on their eligibility as defined by the terms in the preliminary information memorandum (PIM).

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