Govt not to divest AI stake, airline to seek Rs 1.9K cr more in aid | business | Hindustan Times
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Govt not to divest AI stake, airline to seek Rs 1.9K cr more in aid

The government has no immediate plans to divest its stake in the ailing national carrier Air India (AI), or bring in a strategic partner, minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma has said.

business Updated: Mar 05, 2015 23:01 IST
HT Correspondent

The government has no immediate plans to divest its stake in the ailing national carrier Air India (AI), or bring in a strategic partner, minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma has said.

The minister highlighted that the government's immediate priority over the next six months was to improve the airline's on-time performance, which has fallen to dismal levels. He emphasised that country needed a national carrier.

AI, which will get equity support of Rs 2,500 crore in 2015-16, will seek Rs 1,900 crore shortfall in equity support later this year through the supplementary demand for grants, a senior aviation ministry official said.

The airline is saddled with a debt of Rs 40,000 crore, and combined losses of Rs 36,000 crore.

As per the financial restructuring plan, the government has promised to infuse Rs 30,231 crore into the bleeding airline by 2021. Out of this, the airline has received around Rs 18,000 crore.

"The government cannot keep running the Air India at the taxpayers' expense. You need professionals to run an airline, not bureaucrats," said aviation expert Subhash Goyal.

Ministry sources said a search panel was likely to be constituted for selecting the next chairman and managing director of AI after the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) failed to find a suitable candidate.

The PESB had interviewed three of the eight shortlisted candidates for AI CMD's post on Tuesday. It had not found any "suitable" candidate.