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Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 16, 2013
The CBI registered an FIR against Airbus Industrie of France and seven former and serving officials of Indian Airlines - now merged with Air India - for failing to properly implement a concession clause built into a Rs. 9,000-crore agreement for acquiring 43 aircraft in 2006.

The CBI began the preliminary enquiry nearly two years ago against unknown persons, alleging that the clause on setting up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) unit, a warehouse for spares and a training centre at a cost of $175 million (around Rs. 750 crore) was diluted in the agreement.

The Comptroller and Auditor General also raised objections in this regard in its performance audit of civil aviation in India for 2011-12, saying that the airline didn't put legally binding clauses in the agreement for enforcing the concession.  www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/3/16_03_13-metro1c.jpg

Besides Airbus Industrie, the CBI named then Indian Airlines deputy managing director Manet Paes, three former directors and three other officers as accused in the case.

According to sources, these concessions were extracted from Airbus by an empowered group of ministers, led by then finance minister P Chidambaram. Under the deal, all the 43 aircraft were supplied by Airbus by April 2010.

An Airbus spokesperson, however, said Airbus had been in dialogue with the civil aviation ministry and Air India. He said the MRO, training and spares centre had been formally committed and the spares centre also became operational since 2007.

Besides, of its two training centres, one has become operational in Bangalore while another in Noida will start in 2013.

"With the recent changes to the taxes on MRO, the business case is now viable and construction of an Airbus MRO will begin in 2013."