New Delhi: While the government is looking to disinvest Air India, the country’s national carrier has, over the last ten years, stacked up a massive debt. According to figures tabled by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Air India owes has taken loans worth Rs. 51,890 crores that is yet to be repaid. On top of this crippling debt, Air India has accrued losses worth Rs. 19,619.28 crores between Financial Years 2013-14 and 2016-17.
Eight Members of Parliament, in a written question, asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation, “whether it has been revealed that Air India has suffered huge losses due to the misuse of its resources, if so, the details thereof; whether the former ex-officers of Air India were grossly neglected in foreign deployment, if so, the details thereof; whether over staffing in Air India is affecting its efficiency and profit and if so, the steps taken to tackle this issue; whether the Air India has sought huge amount of loan to meet its immediate capital requirements and if so, the details thereof indicating various loans on Air India as on date; whether some private airlines have expressed their interest to operate International flights of Air India, if so, the details thereof; and the other steps taken/being taken by the Government for revival/turnaround of Air India and clear its huge debt burden?”
Minister of State (MoS) Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, in his response, said, “The total outstanding loans on Air India as on 30.09.2017 (Provisional) is Rs. 51,890 crore.” Of the total amount, Rs. 18, 364 crore was for aircraft loans and Rs. 33,526 crore was for working capital loans.
While the losses incurred by the national airlines has reduced since FY 2013-14, it still remains significant. In 2013-14, Air India made losses worth Rs. 6,279.60 crore. The loss figure came down to Rs. Rs. 5,859.91 crore in 2014-15 and further down to Rs. 3836.77 crore in 2015-16. In 2016-17, the figure marginally dropped to Rs. 3643 crore in 2016-17.
One way out of this crisis facing the national carrier is disinvestment. In July this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had given in-principle approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries.