Air India, which has been posting losses for years now, has a debt of around Rs 46,000 crore
GN Bureau | December 19, 2016
“There is an idea circulating that Air India will do better if its debt is restructured,” union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju told Hindu BusinessLine.
The minister, however, also stressed the need to evolve a consensus on the matter within his own ministry. “Once you convince yourself, it is easier to convince the others”.
Air India has been posting losses for years now and has a debt of around Rs 46,000 crore.
Raju said: “I am not someone who will indulge in ‘Air India-bashing’, but neither am I going to commit the taxpayers’ money for eternity.” He said the central government was willing to help the airline “pull up its socks as they have done India proud on several occasions”.
The minister added that though debt restructuring will throw the national carrier a lifeline, the ministry has to discuss the benefits of such a move.
“We have to discuss the pros and cons and everyone has to be make-up their mind. Within ourselves, we are not democratic. Just because you have the power to overrule does not mean we should use that power. No one is ‘Mr-Know-it-all’. We have to take all their suggestions,” he was quoted as saying.
Raju said the central government is willing to talk to players who may be interested in picking up a stake in Air India.
He noted that the government was willing to help private airlines too, albeit with policy benefits, but they will have to get their economics right. “We did some hand-holding for SpiceJet, and because of that, we were able to save about 5,000 jobs. SpiceJet too has recovered well now,” he said.
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