Air India: Government has prepared a revival plan for national carrier, minister tells Lok Sabha
The comprehensive financial package will focus on robust organisational reforms and aim to build profitable airline network group.
Union minister Jayant Sinha on Thursday said that the central government has prepared a revival plan for state-owned Air India that will provide for a comprehensive financial package, differentiated strategies for the airline’s core businesses, and strong organisational reforms, PTI reported.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, the minister of state for civil aviation said the plan will focus on building a competitive and profitable airline network group. Last month, the government had sought parliamentary approval for an equity infusion of Rs 2,345 crore in Air India. The government had also sought approval to provide grants-in-aid of Rs 1,300 crore to Air India Asset Holding, a special purpose vehicle set up to privatise the ground handling transport business of the carrier.
Sinha said the financial package will include the transfer of non-core debt and assets to the special purpose vehicle. It will also aim to put in place organisational and governance reforms on the boardroom level.
The carrier has planned to monetise its unutilised and surplus immovable real estate assets over the next few years, Sinha said. “Till date, Air India has realised an amount of Rs 410 crore through sale of its non-core assets in various cities in India and abroad,” he said. “Air India has also realised a rental income of Rs 314 crore approximately.”
In March, the government had planned to divest 76% stake in Air India, ignoring a parliamentary panel’s recommendation to give the debt-ridden airline five years to revive itself. The proposed stake sale, however, failed to take off as the Centre did not receive any expressions of interest from potential bidders by the end of the May 31 deadline.
‘Carrier should disclose income from properties abroad’
The Central Information Commission on Wednesday said that Air India should disclose its assets abroad and earnings from them. Activist Assem Takyar had filed a Right To Information application seeking details of the rent and lease fee the carrier had received from its properties abroad since April 1, 2008.
The commission rejected the application of a particular section of the Right To Information Act, which prohibits the disclosure of information which is of commercial confidence, and involves trade secrets or intellectual property.
“Appellant has merely sought to know the amount of rent, lease fee and arrears of rent accruing to Air India from its properties abroad and disclosure of this information can by no stretch of imagination impact aspects of commercial confidence,” Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said.