New Delhi: Cash-starved Air India has issued a gag order for its employees, cautioning them of  ‘appropriate action’ if they interact with the media without prior authorisation in writing from the airline chief.

“It has been observed that there are instances where employees have interacted with media or posted videos in uniform in Air India aircraft, aired views on electronic and social media portraying the company in bad light despite the fact that time and again instructions have been issued advising employees to refrain from doing so,” a letter signed by the Airline’s Director Personnel Amrita Sharan read.

“This is to reiterate that no employee(s) in individual capacity or on behalf of a group or union or association of employees shall issue statements in print, electronic or social media or post videos on any matter related to the company without prior authorisation in writing by the CMD,”

Furthermore it stated that the employees have to make a request through proper channel and then explicit approval of the chairman and managing director (CMD). “Any violation of the above will be viewed very seriously and appropriate action as per applicable service regulations/ instructions would be taken against those found violating the same,” the letter added.

Earlier, the airline had asked at least 676 airline employees to vacate posh apartments in Vasant Vihar colony in south Delhi and look for alternate accommodation.  There are a total 810 flats in the Vasant Vihar housing colony for Air India employees out of which 676 flats are currently occupied.

The airline currently has a total debt of about Rs 55,000 crore which includes long-term loan taken for aircraft acquisition and working capital loans. The sales of various Air India properties is part of the government`s plan to cut the heavy debt of the airline. Accordingly, it has invited bids for plots, flats and building across various cities.