Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh sprang a surprise on Saturday when he indicated that privatisation only could save India’s ailing national carrier Air India that is currently surviving on a bailout funded by the tax payers’ money.
“We may look at privatising Air India if there is political consensus and the cabinet deems it a viable option,” Singh told HT.
Citing the example of government-owned hotels that once flourished but had to be privatised when funding dried up, Singh told a news channel on Saturday that both the management and employees of Air India are now aware of the financial constraints marring the operations of the airlines.
He said the financial equity support - Rs. 30,000 crore till 2020 - promised by the finance ministry to the carrier might not be feasible in the long run because the country’s fiscal situation was not conducive in the wake of high fiscal deficit. In such a situation, privatisation could then be the only option left for the airline to continue functioning.
Singh, however, clarified, the ministry had no immediate plans to sell a stake in Air India to any private party.
“If we do not give Air India the equity support this year, the commitment can be met next year,” he said.