In a damning observation about India’s national carrier, Air India, the civil aviation minister, Ashok Gajapathi Rahu has described its books ‘so bad’ that no one will want to buy.
“Its (Air India) books are so bad. I don’t think that even if it is offered, anybody would come for it,” he said.
Raju, though ruled out the government’s disinvestment plan for Air India, which has a debt of some Rs. 50,000 crore.
He, however, made it clear that the taxpayers’ money cannot be committed “for eternity”.
Grappling with mounting debts and tough business conditions, Air India has been in the red since the merger of then Air India and Indian Airlines in 2007 and is staying afloat on a Rs. 30,000-crore bailout package extended by the UPA government.
PTI quoted Raju as saying that he would not like to get into “Air India bashing,” adding that the carrier ought to have functioned in a more cohesive manner to deliver on its turnaround goals.
“It is a nice airline. I like Air India but I can’t commit taxpayers’ money for eternity. That is not done,” Mr Raju told Press Trust of India in an interview.
As per the latest Directorate General of Civil Aviation data, Air India ferried a total of 11.98 lakh passengers on its domestic network in April, cornering a market share of 15.1 per cent during this period.
(Inputs from PTI)