Cabinet to decide on privatisation of Air India

Govt says open to all options, including disinvestment

Cabinet to decide on privatisation of Air India

The Cabinet will soon take a call on NITI Aayog’s suggestion to privatise Air India, where the government is pumping in money to keep it afloat.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had on Tuesday said all options, including disinvestment, is before the government to take the national carrier to a new high. A source said the Cabinet would soon take a call on the issue.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the government is exploring all options on the national carrier, which has a debt of around Rs 50,000 crore.

The talks come against the backdrop of arguments that there is no point in the government pumping in money into Air India as part of its Turn Around Plan and Financial Restructuring Plan (TAP-FRP). Under the TAP-FRP approved in April 2012, the government had committed to infusing equity of Rs 42,182 crore from 2011-12 to 2031-32.

The Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) described the government’s proposal as an exercise with a “dubious intent to fritter away” a national asset to benefit private airlines.

The CITU said the move was against national interest and ill-timed as it came when Air India has posted an operating profit for the first time in 10 years since its merger with Indian Airlines.

“The privatisation of Air India is not for saving public money but for frittering away a national asset and exchequer for the benefit of private corporate and private airlines, both domestic and foreign. This is an exercise with a dubious intent, totally against the national interest,” the CITU stated.

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