Bills unpaid, govt comes to AI' s aid

Govt yet to clear dues with airline even as it mulls equity infusion

sweta-ranjan

Sweta Ranjan | July 1, 2011



While the government is mulling an equity infusion of Rs 1,200 crore into the ailing Air India, it is yet to pay dues to the tune of nearly Rs 800 crore it owes the national carrier for VVIP flights.

Out of a billed amount of Rs 1,173 crore, the government only very recently cleared Rs 250 crore. However, there is no word on the payment of the rest.

The government has also not paid Air India an additional due of Rs 400 crore for the Libya and Cairo evacuations and Haj operations.

The burden on the Maharaja has also been mounting due to its social commitments like services during national disaster or political unrest.

Social causes seem to be one of the prime reasons the grounding of the Maharaja. The airline employs more than 85 sportspersons in Air India for their extraordinary performance.

They hold positions ranging from assistant manager to general manager with the airline, while many of them pay huge sums as income tax every year.

An aviation experts says, “Earlier things were different. Sportsperson were offered such patronage so than they keep themselves away from daily struggle and concentrate mainly on their pursuit of athletic excellence. But now the scenario is different. Sportspersons are earning huge money through sports and through advertising as well”.

Cricketers like Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, VVS Laxman, Rudra Pratap singh or players who have in the past represented India in other sports are on the payroll of the airline. Irfan Pathan and RP Singh are both assistant commercial managers with the airlines.

Other prominent personalities include Dilip Tirkey, former captain of the Indian Hockey team and his teammate Lazarus Barla who are also employees of India’s national carrier.

Anju Jain and Jhulan Goswami, both members of the Indian women’s cricket team, Parimarjan Negi and Tania Sachdev of chess, Dhanraj Pillai of hockey and Gagan Narang of shooting are some more names in the list who have been thus honoured by the national carrier.

Meanwhile, the maharaja is even struggling to arrange fuel, operate flights and pay salaries to its employees.

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