The Union government owed Air India a total of Rs 33.69 crore as on July 27, according to information released by Air India in response to a Right to Information application.
Of these, the outstanding dues for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flights amount to Rs 7.19 crore, while those for the president’s flights amount to Rs 6.12 crore. The outstanding dues for the vice-president’s flights amount to Rs 10.21 crore.
Retired Commodore Lokesh Batra had filed the RTI application.
The cabinet secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office handles the prime minister’s flights. The single largest outstanding bill amount from the office was Rs 4.25 crore, for travel between March 11, 2020 and March 15, 2020.
The Ministry of Defence handles the president’s flights. The single biggest outstanding bill amount from the President’s Office was Rs 4.45 crore, for travel between November 5, 2008 and November 8, 2008. Pratibha Patil was the president of India at the time.
The Ministry of External Affairs handles the vice-president’s flights, evacuation flights and flights for foreign dignitaries. The single largest outstanding bill amount from the vice-president’s office was Rs 5.95 crore, for travel between October 14, 2016 and October 20, 2016.
Hamid Ansari was the vice-president at that time.
The external affairs ministry also owed Rs 7.21 crore to Air India for evacuation flights, and Rs 2.94 crore for flights of foreign dignitaries, as on July 27.
Earlier, Batra had filed a similar RTI application seeking data about outstanding dues for flights of VVIPs till March 31, 2019. At the time, the Centre owed the airline a total of Rs 598.55 crore.
Almost half of these dues, amounting to Rs 297.08 crore, were pending from the Prime Minister’s Office.
On October 8, Tata Sons had won the bid to Air India for Rs 18,000 crore. The conglomerate regained control of Air India nearly 70 years after its nationalisation.
Air India was founded in 1932 as Tata Airlines by family scion and aviation enthusiast Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata.