CENTRE CONSIDERING RECASTING AIR INDIA’S DEBT
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is exploring ways and means of restructuring the debt of the national carrier Air India. The government is willing to talk to those who are interested in picking up a stake in the airline. Air India has been posting losses for years now and its debt burden now stands at ` 46,000 crore. “There is an idea circulating that Air India will do better if its debt is restructured,” Union Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju told the media. However, he also stressed the need to evolve a consensus on the matter within his own Ministry. “Once you convince yourself, it is easier to convince the others.”
The Minster made it clear that Air India cannot expect support from the government all the time. “I am not someone who will indulge in ‘Air India-bashing’, but neither am I going to commit the taxpayers’ money for eternity.” He said the Centre was willing to help the airline “pull up its socks as they have done India proud on several occasions”. The airline needs to survive and a strategy to that end will be put in place.