Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Probe of Air India, Indian Airlines to cover gamut of Rs 45,000-cr deals

New Delhi: The CBI’s decision to probe the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India, the purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, and alleged irregularities in the purchase and lease of aircraft by the two state-owned airlines comes in the wake of the Supreme Court setting the investigating agency a June deadline to complete the case.

On January 5, the apex court had given a direction on a petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation led by lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

On Monday, the CBI registered three FIRs and a preliminary enquiry (PE) to go into the decisions taken by the Manmohan Singh government, including surrender of profitable routes to favour private airlines.

The cases were registered against unidentified officials of Air India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and others under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption. CBI sources said “all stakeholders” were under its scanner.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had recently said the government was open to strategic divestment of Air India, which had a debt of Rs 50,000 crore and a market share of 14 per cent.

Both Air India and Indian Airlines have been dogged by controversies since the Manmohan Singh government assumed office in 2004. In September 2005, Indian Airlines signed a Rs 10,000-crore deal to acquire 43 Airbus A-320 family aircraft.
30/05/17 Business Line