IA Plan Hits Air Pocket As PIB Meeting Put Off

New Delhi, Jan 28: | Updated: Jan 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
The Indian Airlines plan to acquire 43 aircraft at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore has been further delayed with the indefinite postponement of a crucial meeting of the public investment board (PIB), which was slated for Thursday, official sources said on Wednesday.

The meeting of the PIB has been postponed. No fresh dates have been fixed, the sources said.

The Indian Airlines board had in April 2002 cleared the proposal to acquire 43 airbus aircraft of different makes A-321, A-320 and A-319. The proposal was cleared at the pre-PIB level in the middle of last year, which had led to the fixing of the PIB meeting for Thursday.

At the pre-PIB stage, the officials of the Planning Commission and finance ministry were understood to have truncated the 43 aircraft proposal to 28. However, there was no official word on it.

The sources said a meeting of the PIB could only be held after a new government takes over at the centre after the dissolution of parliament six and fresh elections.

For IA to actually place the orders, it is still a long way to go. After the PIB clears the IA proposal, it is to be forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for its clearance. It is only after the ccea clearance that the domestic carrier can initiate negotiations with the European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus Industrie.

Air-India has also approved a plan to buy a mix of 28 planes from Airbus and the US company Boeing. But this proposal has not yet been forwarded to the government.