air india woes

Centre owes Air India Rs 325 crore in pending bills for charter flights, reveals RTI query

The government used the national carrier’s services to book flights exclusively for VVIPs’ overseas trips, but it has not cleared its dues from 2016-’17 yet.

The government owes indebted airline Air India Rs 325.81 crore in unpaid bills for charter flights to foreign countries for VVIPs, a response to a Right to Information query has revealed, according to PTI.

In its reply dated March 8, the national carrier said that as of January 31, Rs 84.01 crore in pending bills was carried forward from 2016-’17, and the remaining Rs 241.8 crore debt was generated in the current financial year.

The airline modifies its commercial aircraft into charter jets for overseas trips by the president, vice president and the prime minister. The defence and foreign ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office and the cabinet secretariat are supposed to pay the bills.

Air India’s response to the query by RTI activist and retired naval officer Commodore Lokesh Batra said the Foreign Ministry owed the airline Rs 178.55 crore, the cabinet secretariat and the PMO Rs 128.84 crore and the Defence Ministry Rs 18.42 crore.

In a separate RTI reply dated March 5, the Civil Aviation Ministry said the government owed Air India Rs 345.946 crore till December 31. The amount includes pending bills worth Rs 20.966 crore towards evacuations of Indians from Cairo, Iraq and Malta and flight services for visiting dignitaries, PTI reported.

Airline consortium to bid for Air India

A consortium of three airlines – Jet Airways, Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM – have expressed interest in bidding for Air India, PTI reported, quoting unidentified officials. In its process to divest shares in the loss-making carrier, the government is expected to soon invite offers.

On Thursday, the Centre said it hopes to complete divesting its stake in Air India by the end of the year. The company will be sold as four different entities – the national carrier, its low-cost arm Air India Express and subsidiary AISATS, which handles ground operations, will be one entity, and its regional arm Alliance Air will be another. Air India Air Transport Services Ltd and Air India Engineering Services Ltd will be sold separately.

In 2017, the Cabinet had approved a proposal to privatise the national carrier. A committee chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been set up to chalk out a strategy to sell the government’s stake in Air India.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

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Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.