No confirmed Rajdhani AC-I/II tickets? Fly Air India instead
Now that former Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani is the Railway Board chairman, he is looking to implement a scheme where railway passengers with unconfirmed tickets can fly to their destination instead. The plan was first proposed by AI to Railways last year, but the latter didn't respond positively. Under this, unconfirmed AC-I/II tickets can be upgraded to AI seats by paying the difference.
This scheme was suggested earlier too
In May'16, AI offered to sell tickets to railway passengers who had unconfirmed tickets. The scheme was to start with Rajdhani. While AC-I travelers didn't have to pay anything extra, AC-II/III passengers had to shell out up to Rs. 2,000. It was a win-win: railway passengers would get to their destination despite unconfirmed tickets, and AI would manage to fill its vacant seats.
What's the status now?
Railway Board Chairman Lohani, who was AI chairman when it proposed the scheme, has now said it will clear the plan if the airlines raked it up again. "If AI approaches us with this proposal, we will accept it," he said.
How this scheme could help the loss-making Air India
In a rarity, the national carrier posted net losses of Rs. 3,643cr for 2016-17. Operating profit rose to Rs. 300cr. This was in significant contrast to the figures of 2015-16: net loss then was Rs. 3,836.77cr and operating profit Rs. 105cr. Though the proposed move could fill up AI's seats, insiders said the focus right now is to run its flights safely and on time.
But this time, a roadblock called privatization
However, what could work as an obstacle this time is the privatization of the national carrier. The government is currently finalizing the process. "Can railways (transfer passengers) with a private AI…without facing charges of benefitting them?" asked an AI insider. But finding buyers won't be easy, considering it comes with a debt burden of almost Rs. 52,000 crore.