Air India needs Rs 50,000 crore financial package; employees seek funds for Maharaja

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Published: May 28, 2020 5:24 PM

Employees of India’s national carrier Air India have sought Rs 50,000 crore financial package for the airline even as the government looks to divest its entire stake in the troubled Maharaja.

India’s aviation sector is under distress with it being one of the worst hit industries due to coronavirus lockdown.

As coronavirus continues to take its toll on the aviation sector around the globe, employees of India’s national carrier Air India have sought Rs 50,000 crore financial package for the airline even as the government looks to divest its entire stake in the troubled Maharaja. “We request you to kindly grant Air India a financial package of Rs 50,000 crore which will go a long way in ensuring that Air India emerges as the strongest and best airline of India,” a Joint Forum of Air India employees in a letter to PM Narendra Modi after the latter announced Rs 20 lakh crore financial stimulus for various sectors of the country. Stating that the aviation industry is under severe stress, the forum has sought immediate intervention to boost the sector.

India’s aviation sector is under distress with it being one of the worst hit industries due to coronavirus lockdown. The country had imposed a nationwide lockdown on 24th March 2020 to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, as passenger services were disrupted, the government had deployed airlines to do relief work such as rescuing stranded passengers and cargo services. “Even at the peak of the COVID 19 pandemic operated flights to and from Wuhan which is the origin and centre point of the coronavirus,” the airline forum said. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic had hit the aviation industry, the government was looking to divest its entire stake in Air India. However, the same came to a standstill due to coronavirus. The government’s latest attempt to sell loss-making Air India was in January 2020 when it sought Expression of Interest (EoI) from interested bidders. It has been extended to June 30 now in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Meanwhile, airlines are expected to reel under massive debts in the aftermath of coronavirus lockdown. According to IATA, global airlines could be under $550 billion collectively by the end of the year as flight operations remain suspended around the globe.

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