Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has said that Air India cannot always run on government money and must fend for itself in the future.
Singh’s statement comes at a time when there is a shortfall of around Rs 2,500 crore in the total Rs 15,600 crore the government has committed to provide the airline for fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2014.
“I have always said that Air India cannot run on government money and should become competitive. If Parliament agrees and the people of this country agree, we can look at privatising Air India,” civil aviation minister Ajit Singh told The Indian Express.
He, however, added that there is no proposal to privatise Air India being discussed at any level in the government at this point.
The government’s long-term plan is to push over Rs 30,000 crore into Air India over a period of nine years from FY’12. The national carrier has received Rs 4,200 crore in FY’14 — used primarily to clear dues of Airports Authority of India and oil companies.
The airline is also planning to raise money from asset monestisation and plans to raise around Rs 1,500 crore in the current fiscal. The airline has also knocked the doors of the finance ministry to provide sovereign guarantee for borrowings of around Rs 2,500 crore.
It has also managed to improve its revenue from operations. The airline expects revenues to rise 20.2 per cent to Rs 19,393 crore in FY’14 from Rs 16,130 crore in the last financial year.
Meanwhile, opposition parties slammed Singh for saying that government was ready to privatise Air India and accused him of selling public asset without bringing a civil aviation policy.
Warning the minister against making any “off-the-cuff” remark, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said there must be a proper discussion on the issue.