Pawan Hans’ regional chopper services plan hit by divestment process

A Pawan Hans helicopter in Ghaziabad.

State-run Pawan Hans’ plan to launch helicopters under the regional connectivity scheme Udan have run into rough weather amid the ongoing disinvestment process and non-availability of choppers, the company’s union has alleged.

Pawan Hans, in which the government has proposed to sell its entire 51 per cent stake to private players, has the mandate to fly on 11 routes across Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand under phase two of Udan scheme.

Oil sector behemoth ONGC holds the remaining 49 per cent in the mini-ratna PSU. It has a fleet of 43 helicopters, with a sizeable chunk of them over 30 years old.

“The disinvestment process has hit our business expansion plans badly as there are restrictions on capital expenditure and fleet expansion,” a union representative said.

“Besides, we are finding it difficult to launch flights on Udan routes as we don’t have the required number of helicopters to run such services,” he said.

The disinvestment process should not come as a roadblock in the business expansion plans of the company, he further said.

After announcing its plans to privatise the profit-making aviation entity in 2016, the government came out with Preliminary Memorandum of Information (PMI) for inviting expression of interest in 2017. However, as it failed to attract enough bidders, the PMI was subsequently cancelled and a fresh one was issued in lieu of that early last month.

“The employees union along with the pilots union has also asked the government to settle the long-pending issues of wage revision and promotions as well as regularisation of contractual pilots before the profit-making company is handed over to private players,” the union representative said.

The union has already flagged these issues at a recent meeting with the civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu, he said.





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