The Union Ministry of Finance has directed all central ministries and government departments to clear the dues to Air India immediately.

In an order issued on Wednesday, the Department of Expenditure also told the ministries and departments to purchase tickets by paying cash as Air India has stopped extending credit facility.

On October 8, Tata Sons had won the bid to acquire debt-ridden Air India for Rs 18,000 crore. With this, the salt-to-software 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.

In July 2009, the Department of Expenditure had made mandated that all government officials will travel by Air India for which the Centre was bearing the cost. This was mandatory for all domestic and international flights, including the leave travel concession journeys.

The Wednesday’s notice scrapped the 2009 order.

Earlier, information released by Air India in response to a Right to Information application had shown that the Union government owed Air India Rs 33.69 crore as on July 27.

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 are Rs 6.12 crore. The outstanding dues for the vice-president’s flights amount to Rs 10.21 crore.

On Monday, Civil Aviation Ministry officials and Tata Sons representatives signed the share purchase agreement for the sale of the national carrier, reported The Hindu.

The Centre has has indicated that it hopes to conclude the handover of the airline by December.