At a time when debt-ridden Air India is struggling for funds, the government has not paid around Rs 600 crore to the national carrier for availing its aircraft for ferrying VVIPs.
The loss-making airline has a debt burden of about Rs 40,000 crore. Air India aircraft are used by the President, vice president, Prime Minister, external affairs and home ministers, among other VVIPs.
The ministry of civil aviation has taken up the issue with various ministries regarding payment for the travel of VVIPs on Air India aircraft.
The government owes around "Rs 500-600 crore" to Air India, official sources said.
"These dues to be paid to Air India for using aircraft for travel of VVIPs," a source said.
Ministries of home affairs, external affairs and defence, are among the major ministries that have accrued Rs 500-600 crore dues till March 31.
In its fleet, Air India has five double-deck Boeing 747-400 aircraft to cater to VVIP travel. Besides a debt of Rs 40,000 crore, the airline had reported losses to the tune of Rs 5,388 crore in FY-14 as against Rs 5,490 in the fiscal 2012-13.
The national carrier is surviving on a bailout package approved in 2012. The erstwhile UPA dispensation had in April 2012 approved Air India's turnaround plan, with a committed public funding of Rs 30,231 crore, staggered over a period of nine years, with some specific riders.
After a streak of losses, Air India had reported a net profit of Rs 14.6 crore in December last year, from a loss of Rs 168.7 crore in the corresponding period of 2013.
The airline in its budget estimates for this fiscal has forecast that it would become operationally profitable by March next year, much ahead of its Turn Around Plan projections.