Air India has been the butt of many jokes for years – it is frequently used as the ultimate example of what a state airline becomes. This role was ensured after Greece’s Olympic went bust.  Only Alitalia comes close among industry analysts when it comes to airline jokes. South African is in a race to join the big league though.

Privatizing state airlines is never easy.  State companies are inevitably places where the state politicians create jobs for their supporters.  When the axe falls these people, whose primary skill is political connections, are the first to go.  They really do not contribute much.  When BA was privatized the first move was firing 22,000 people. Air India may need to fire more than that number.

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