Air India debt unsustainable, should go to private hands: Niti Aayog

Niti Aayog has said that debt level of Air India is unsustainable and it should be privatized. The Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog, Arvind Panagariya said this in an interview to a TV news channel, yesterday and recommended complete privatisation of the airline.

He said government will decide in next six months on the airline’s future course.

Panagariya said that the debt is already about 52,000 crore rupees and 4,000 crore rupees debt is being added every year. Air India is surviving on 30,000 crore rupees bailout package extended by the UPA government.

Recently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the aviation ministry has to explore all possibilities “as to how the privatisation of Air India can be done”.

Earlier, Inter-ministerial consultations on the future course of action for Air India were completed. The cabinet would decide on the next course of action to be taken. Union minister Jayant Sinha said on Tuesday that the debt-laden Air India is staying afloat on tax payers’ money and the government is looking at all options for its revival, including its privatization. The analysis process is under way and the recommendations are before the cabinet which will finally give the nod of going forward.

“All appropriate action and in fact concerns have been (discussed) at the inter-ministerial level and they are being summarised and presented to the Cabinet, which will take into account when it goes through that discussion process,” Sinha said.

Air India traces its roots to Tata Airlines, which was formed way back in 1932. Set up by Tatas, the carrier was made a public company and was rechristened as Air India. Later, it was nationalised. Tatas had tried to acquire stake in Air India earlier as well.

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