‘Air India is a first-class asset’: Aviation Minister on debt-ridden airline

Civil Aviation Minsiter Hardeep Singh Puri said that he has never been as hopeful and confident on Air India, divestment or disinvestment. Photo: PTI (File)

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday (June 20) said that the national carrier Air India is a first-class asset for the country. He justified it by saying that Air India is leading airline in the evacuation process of stranded Indians, succesfully carrying out the Vande Bharat Mission.

The minister added that he has never been as hopeful and confident on Air India, divestment or disinvestment. He added that it is  first-class asset and has been at the heart of evacuating Indians amid the global COVID-19 crisis.

The increasing debt and mounting losses has made Air India’s financial position unstable, with the government planning to sell its entire stake in Air India Limited. Earlier this year, the announced the stake sale in the debt-ridden national carrier, after an attempt to auction a majority stake, two years ago, failed to draw any bids.

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Air India and Air India Express have almost 51 per cent share of the international traffic from India and the employee cost is significantly lower, as compared to other international airlines. However, despite the government’s monetary aid of ₹30,500 crore previously, the cash-strapped airline has been incurring major losses.

Puri earlier said that Air India and Air India Express are great entities. The carriers have lucrative slots as well as bilateral rights. The average age of the aircraft is eight years, which in civil aviation definitions, means that it is a young fleet.

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