As expected, the deal between Jet airways and Etihad airways has run into controversy. The government has taken some unusual decisions. The deal has coincided with a decision to add 36,670 new seats on flights and it is likely that this was sanctioned to further it. The agreement was signed on the same day in April when it. These are serious allegations which highlight the inability of this UPA government to make decisions based on considerations only of policy. The government has taken a decision that favours a private party and there are also issues of ownership and control of Jet airways, with fears that Etihad would get a disproportionately large amount of say in the former despite its small stake. This in itself suggests that something is wrong with the deal. It is an interesting question why the government did not go into all these aspects of before the deal was made. This suggests that the government is not functioning at its best. This is hardly tolerable. Belatedly, the prime minister’s office has said that the deal is under examination. It should have done so before.
The government has been lax in instituting policy which it should not have. The deal should be further examined. If there is any corruption involved in the making of this deal it should be brought to light and the guilty should be punished. The aviation sector is in a mess and this is the result of the policies of the UPA government. Jet airways is now a debt-ridden company that is urgently in the need of funds. This should not have been the case. It would have prospered had it had the government’s support. The Etihad deal will allow an Indian company to get out of debt. It will allow a 24 per cent stake in the private Indian airline for Rs2,058 crores. Most regrettably, this is only the first overseas investment in an Indian airlines since this country allowed foreign firms upto 49 per cent ownership in its airlines. This policy came too late and has not been acted upon and the government cannot deny its role in not making this policy work. The government has to tread a fine line between making the deal work and in ensuring that that the right decisions are taken.