"If you want to become a millionaire, you buy an airline worth a billion dollars and you become a millionaire." This was a joke narrated by Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh when he reiterated his "personal" view on privatising Air India.
The Minister was speaking at the the India Economic Conclave organised by ET Now.
"Personally, I am of the view that the government should not be in services industry, especially something like airlines. It has a very thin margin, highly competitive, capital intensive industry.
"So, for the government to run an airline ... because government decisions are taken by consensus. In airlines business, decisions have to be taken very fast which in government is very difficult,"
Singh said a few months ago he had floated the idea of privatising Air India and there were positive reactions, except from a few political parties.
Opposition parties, including the Left, have slammed the Civil Aviation Minister for saying that government was ready to privatise Air India and accused him of selling public assets without bringing a civil aviation policy.
The Minister said two years ago a proposal was mooted to privatise the state-run carriers and was also discussed in the Cabinet and many members have agreed to that.
"But at that point of time, nobody would have invested in Air India. It was in very bad shape losing thousands of crores every year. There were two strikes in a year and all kinds of problems," he said.