Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha on Wednesday claimed that domestic airlines, including Air India, were “running in profit”, reported PTI. “They are not running in losses. Even Air India too is in profit,” said Sinha, adding that the government needs to overhaul the national carries to make it a “great global” airline.
Sinha based his arguments on the increased number of passenger trips because of affordable fares. “As far as the passenger trips are concerned, in the last three years, there is a 70% rise. So it is wrong to say that the aviation sector is running into losses, in fact they are in profit,” he said, according to PTI. He cited the government’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN as an example. “We have put a price cap in UDAN scheme to make the ticket more affordable to the common people,” said Sinha.
Sinha’s comments come at a time when the Centre is reported to be considering think-tank Niti Aayog’s proposal to privatise the national carrier. Sinha said the government is deliberating on the ownership issue and will make a decision soon. However, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has favoured disinvestment of the loss-making carrier.
Currently, Air India has debts worth more than Rs 50,000 crore and has an equal amount of accumulated losses, according to Business Standard. In 2015-’16, it had reported a loss of about Rs 3,587 crore. The national carrier was offered a Rs 30,000-bailout package by the earlier Congress-led government in 2012 for 10 years.
The airline has 140 planes, including 43 Airbus A320s, 15 Boeing 777s and about two dozen new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, according to Mint. However, this is not the first time that there is talk of privatising Air India. A similar attempt was made in 2001 when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the prime minister.