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MPs to launch offensive on centre over AI losses

As many as 24 members of Parliament are out to grill the Centre on the financial mess in Air India as the bleeding national career fights for survival amid questions on whether taxpayers should continue to give it oxygen.
Hindustan Times | By Tushar Srivastava, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2011 11:12 PM IST

As many as 24 members of Parliament are out to grill the Centre on the financial mess in Air India as the bleeding national career fights for survival amid questions on whether taxpayers should continue to give it oxygen.

Civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi is scheduled to answer a question in Parliament on Wednesday on the “financial health of Air India” that has been put up by no less than 24 MPs.

“Usually, one or two MPs at the most ask a particular question, but this is a rare situation,” said an aviation ministry official.

Among the questions asked by the MPs is whether the CAG in its report has stated that AI under-reported its losses in 2009-10. The official loss figure was put at R5,551 crore.

HT had first reported on February 8 that a supplementary audit by the CAG had revealed that AI may have understated its losses for fiscal 2010 by R3038.1 crore.

The MPs have also inquired whether there is disparity in salaries of erstwhile Indian Airlines (IA) and AI pilots following merger of the two companies. Significantly, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, a union of erstwhile IA pilots, has threatened to strike work on the same issue from March 9 — a day the question comes up in Parliament.

“There has been no improvement in AI on any account in last two years. It has been an absolute downslide. For all the ills of AI, the buck must stop with the top management. You can’t let them get off. Someone has to be accountable,” said Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based aviation expert.

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