The Civil Aviation Ministry has recommended an equity infusion of Rs. 2,000 crore in Air India in the next financial year. This is in addition to the Rs. 1,200 crore expected to be pumped into the beleagured national carrier in the upcoming budget.
"Equity infusion of Rs. 1,200 crore in Air India is expected in a few days... We have asked from the government further equity infusion of Rs. 2,000 crore to be provided in the coming year's budget," Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told reporters on the sidelines of a function to induct the first seaplane by Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited.
He said he was hopeful of the government looking at the proposal "objectively" and added "It is the committment of the government to help it (Air India) out and ensure that the national carrier is in good health".
Maintaining that Air India should live up to the people's expectations at a time when competition was the name of the game, he said "I would like to see it performing better. Some parameters have been met but a lot more needs to be done".
Pointing out that RBI was working on the airline's proposal to restructure its debt, he said "the exercise will help Air India reduce the interest on loans and also enable moratorium on the repayment of loans". The exercise is likely to be completed by January end.
Responding to a question on the handling of the fog situation by the Delhi airport authority and other airports in the country, Patel said it was being managed in the best possible manner. "We have been able to handle the situation compared to the situation in Europe where there was utter chaos (due to heavy snowfall)," Patel said.
The minister said all operations under the category-IIIB Instrument Landing System (ILS), which allows an aircraft to take off in a visibility of 50 metres, were being carried out as per the standard norms "applied anywhere in the world".
"The criticism of the preparedness to deal with the fog is unwarranted. All Indian carriers are operating within the safety parameters. Indian carriers and pilots are CAT-III B compliant in large numbers," Patel said.
Nowhere in the world can any operation take place when the visibility drops below 50 meters, he said in reply to questions.