DISINVESTMENT IN THE FLAG CARRIER AIR INDIA
With the aims of making the flag carrier a stronger global airline, the government is open to all options including disinvestment, to take flag carrier Air India to a new high, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said. The Minster and his deputy Jayant Sinha, however, did not elaborate on the options other than disinvestment available to them.
Their remarks came days after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government
is exploring all options on the future of the national carrier, which has a debt burden of around 50,000 crore. The talks come against the backdrop of arguments that there is no point in the government pumping money into Air India as part of its Turn Around Plan and Financial Restructuring Plan (TAP-FRP). Under the TAP-FRP approved in April 2012, the government had committed to infuse equity of 42,182 crore in thed period 2011 to 2032. “The Niti Aayog has made some recommendations. It has suggested that we need to have a strong and viable airline. All courses of actions are being examined. We cannot disclose beyond this at this point of time. We have not closed any options,” Raju told a press conference on the achievements of his Ministry in the past three years. Asked whether the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Aviation were on the same page on disinvestment, he said that there is no point in viewing this issue in a compart- mentalised fashion, saying the government has to be taken as one unit. Jayant Sinha said they have to sit together and formulate a “winning strategy” for the national carrier. He said that in 2015-16, Air India made operational profits for the first time in the past ten years. India’s leading budget carrier IndiGo has won the Best Operational Excellence Award from Airbus for the second consecutive year after outperforming 46 other airlines globally. The selection criteria for the award is based on data covering two years of operation and taking into considerations such as the number of aircraft in the fleet, daily utilisation rate, technical reliability and the number of delays caused due to flights for operational reasons. “It is a great honour to be the recipient of the coveted “Best Operational Excellence” awards that not only recognise, but also reward a few A-320 Family operators who have excellent aircraft utilisation rate and flight hours, combined with excellent Operational Reliability. To be recognised for the second consecutive time after Kuala Lumpur in 2014, it is a proud moment to be receiving the award again for being a large A-320 Family operator globally. The fact that these are not jury awards, but based on a collection of operational data, is a testament to the hard work that thousands of my colleagues put in every day in a tough business and an even tougher environment. It is once more an extremely proud moment for me as an Indian to see an Indian carrier being adjudged as the world’s best,” said Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo.