Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Privatising Air India only option, impossible to service its debt burden: Hardeep Singh Puri

New Delhi: Privatising Air India is not a choice but the only way forward, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said Tuesday.

“It is impossible to service the level of debt burden that Air India is currently dealing with. I wake up to the challenge of privatising Air India every day,” he said at ThePrint’s Off The Cuff in Delhi.

Puri, who is also the minister for housing & urban affairs and minister of state for commerce and industry, was in conversation with ThePrint Editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta.

Speaking about the civil aviation industry at large, the minister noted that domestic air traffic posted double-digit growth in November for the first time since December 2018.

Puri also spoke about how the sector had the potential to emerge as one of the “critical drivers of Indian economic growth”, and the government’s aim to double domestic and international airports in India over the next three to five years.
At the event, Hardeep Singh Puri said Air India was a “profit making organisation till the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines”.

Gupta, however, pointed out, “It (Air India) was sometimes profitable but most times not.”

A large section of Puri’s arguments focussed on the idea that though the fundamentals of Air India have improved over the past couple of years, it was impossible to run it with the scale of debt the company has accumulated.
18/12/19 Srijan Shukla/The Print
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