No plan to completely exit Air India, says MoS Civil Aviation
New Delhi, Aug 1: The government remains committed to the disinvestment of Air India but has no plan to exit the national carrier altogether, Union minister Jayant Sinha said on Wednesday.
The proposed stake sale in the debt-laden airline failed to take off as it did not receive any Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential bidders when the deadline ended on May 30. The government is also working on ways to improve the performance of Air India.
Against this backdrop, Sinha told the Rajya Sabha that the government remains committed to the disinvestment of Air India. In a written reply, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation said the government "has no such plan to exit Air India altogether".
"In view of volatile crude prices and adverse fluctuations in exchange rates, the present environment is not conducive to stimulate interest amongst investors for strategic disinvestment of Air India in the immediate near future. The issue would be revisited once global economic indicators, including oil prices and forex conditions stabilise," he said.
As per its audited accounts, the airline's total cumulative losses stood at Rs 47,145.62 crore in financial year 2016-17. According to Sinha, Air India has been making losses since merger with Indian Airlines in 2007. High interest burden, increase in competition, high airport user charges, adverse impact of exchange rate variation and liberalised bilaterals to foreign carriers leading to excess capacity in the market are among the major reasons for the losses, he said.