Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Should Air India be sold? Aviation Minister says 'hardly any bakras around' to buy

Amid speculation that Air India may be privatised, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Wednesday that there were "hardly any bakras (scapegoats) around" to buy the loss-making national carrier unless its massive debt was written off first.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Raju said all options were on the table with regard to reviving the airline. He said Air India's finances were bad because of legacy and other issues and turnaround plans have failed to significantly improve its balance sheet.

"Business-as-usual is not an option," said the minister, echoing statements had made the previous day. "Taxpayers' money cannot be committed for an eternity."

Raju's comments came amid suggestions from the NITI Aayog, the government's policy think-tank, that Air India's debt be written off and a strategic disinvestment should follow. It noted that world over, governments have pulled out of national carriers and India should consider following suit.

"I have a fascination for Air India and I am still searching for ideas," said Raju. "I want it to survive and don't want it to go the Kingfisher way."
31/05/17 CNBC-TV18/