New Delhi: Air India's projected net loss for 2017-18 is estimated at over Rs 3,500 crore, which was less than the provisional figure for 2016-17, government said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in a written reply that the projected net loss of Air India in the budget estimates for 2017-18 (provisional) stood at Rs 3,579 crore as against Rs 3,643 crore (provisional) for the year 2016-17.
During Question Hour, he said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has only given an "in principle approval" for strategic disinvestment of Air India and a committee of specific alternative mechanism has been constituted which has sought suggestions in this regard.
Replying to supplementaries on the proposed sale of state-owned Air India, Raju said the specific alternative mechanism will guide the process of strategic disinvestment from time to time.
The committee is headed by the Finance Minister and has Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
"This Committee will take a decision as to what has to happen there. As of now, if any suggestion from any quarter are welcome and the Government will definitely take them into consideration.
"The ultimate idea is to make Air India a vibrant airline with a professional management. Without professionalism in the management, there is hardly going to be any improvement in Air India," the minister told Rajya Sabha.
In reply to a specific query, Raju said only an "in principle approval" has been given on the disinvestment.
"The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in its meeting held on June 28, 2017, has given an in-principle approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries and constitution of Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) to guide the process of strategic disinvestment from time to time," he said in his written reply.
He also said that Air India has been incurring continuous losses and has huge accumulated losses.
"Niti Ayog in its report on Air India has stated that further financial support in a mature and competitive aviation market would not be the best use of scarce financial resources of the government," he said.
The airline has been making an operating profit of Rs 105 crore during 2015-16 and Rs 215 crore (provisional) during 2016-17 and as per budget estimates for 2017-18 (provisional) it is projected to make an operating profit of Rs 531 crore, he said in the written reply.
Raju said the government has also taken a number of measures to cut its losses under the turnaround plan.
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