AI to cut cost by Rs 3,000 cr; equity infusion likely


"One step would be induction of equity and the other restructuring high cost debt to low cost debt," he told reporters here after holding separate meetings with Air India employees unions and the management.
A draft note on equity infusion in Air India, prepared by the civil aviation ministry, is being sent to Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Patel said.
He said a series of measures to cut costs and enhance revenues would include returning leased planes and leasing out some new ones.
Air India, which is faced with losses estimated at over Rs 7,200 crore, has undertaken a major revamp plan parts of which have already come into effect, Patel said.
"Air traffic has improved over the last six months and overall market scenario has definitely witnessed a slight improvement in the last month or two and that does send out a signal of cautious optimism that aviation industry would lead to a road to recovery though it may not be as thick as we witnessed a few years ago," he said.

Maintaining that the government would come to the aid of Air India only if it cut costs drastically and increased revenue, the minister said the airline was "broadly looking at about Rs 3,000 crore annual reduction in costs and approximately Rs 2,000 crore enhancement in revenues."
This, he said, would lead Air India to "the path of recovery in a couple of years".
Patel said the airline has decided to defer delivery of six Boeing 777 aircraft by two years. The national carrier is also in the process of retiring its large fleet of leased aircraft in the next 12-24 months.
"The issue of certain newer aircraft being leased out is also being explored by the management, especially a few Boeing 777 (Long Range) which are, at the moment, likely to be inducted in the next few months," Patel said, indicating that the airline would go in for sale and lease-back policy, which is being pursued by its private competitors.
Describing his meeting with representatives of 14 Air India staff unions as positive, Patel said "the unions were very understanding and are aware of the problems".

However, cost reduction was "not only related to the employees but to various other costs. Therefore, it is something for which all the senior management and employees will have to get together to find viable and sustainable solutions to this major issue," Patel said.
Earlier, Patel met representatives of Air India employees unions, including those of the pilots, and sought their cooperation to turn around the ailing national carrier.
At the four hour-long meeting, the union leaders assured their cooperation after Patel's appeal and came out with several suggestions to cut costs and enhance savings, union representatives said.
After meeting the unions, Patel held in-depth discussions on the financial health of Air India with the airline's top brass.
The union sources said the three-member Air India Board sub-committee, set up to chalk out and implement the turnaround plan and deal with staff issues, is likely to be expanded to include five representatives of the employees.
The sub-committee comprises Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav and Joint Secretaries in the Civil Aviation Ministry, E K Bharat Bhushan and Prashant Shukul.
There are 14 unions in the state-run airline representing engineers, pilots, cabin crew, officers and other employees.
Asked whether the issue of cutting productivity-linked incentive (PLI) and allowances came up at the meeting, the union sources said those issues would be discussed with the management.

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