The contentious proposal of lifelong upgrades on air tickets to former secretaries of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and their family members for travel by Air India – recently cleared by the Ministry – was first proposed in 2003 but was turned down by the then minister Shahnawaz Hussain.
HT has obtained notings of the concerned of file on the issue in which privileged ex-bureaucrats gain travel upgrades worth lakhs of rupees in some cases in the airline that ran up a Rs. 5,400-crore loss in 2009-10.
The typewritten note raised the question on whether upgrades extended to former ministers may also be granted to “former secretaries to the Government of India”. However, a top ministry official had added “in the civil aviation ministry” to the note in his own handwriting. That restricted the facility only to former secretaries of the aviation ministry and not other ministries.
In 2003, the proposal initially covered only former and serving aviation ministers. However, there is another handwritten note that says, “I think we should extend the same facilities to former civil aviation secretaries also.”
Hussain had cleared the proposal only for former ministers.
Civil aviation ministry officials say the upgrades are only subject to seat availability and thus do not cause losses for the airline.