Sunday, May 28, 2017

Govt might soon exit Air India totally, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

The government is in favour of exiting Air India totally if a suitable investor is available, says finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley. “When 84 per cent of the aviation market can be run by private airlines there is no reason why it cannot go to 100 per cent”, the minister noted at Dialogue@DDNews, a series of interviews with the ministers of Narendra Modi-led government to mark the completion of its three years in office. The programme is expected to be aired today.

He said Air India has a thin market share but a massive debt overhang of Rs 50,000 crore. According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation, by December 2016, Air India’s domestic market share measured by the total number of passenger seats sold has dropped to 14.1 per cent, making it the third largest behind market leader Indigo at 39.8 and Jet Airways at 15.5 per cent.

“When I briefly worked as the minister for civil aviation in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, I had signed on Air India’s file asking for its total disinvestment”, he added. The government has no business to run an airline, according to the finance minister. He said the civil aviation ministry headed by P Ashok Gajapathi Raju will, however, have the right to decide on the future course for Air India and they are considering all options.
27/05/17 Subhomoy Bhattacharjee/Business Standard