Air India has sought around Rs 4,300 crore worth funds from the government for the next financial year as the national carrier looks to turnaround its fortunes amid stiff competition.
The airline is surviving on a Rs 30,231 crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA government in 2012. Under the Turnaround Plan (TAP), which runs till March 2021, it has already received Rs 22,280 crore.
A senior official said the carrier has sought about Rs 3,300 crore from the government under the Turnaround Plan and backlog amount of around Rs 977 crore.
The backlog amount is mainly on account of steep appreciation in dollar against the rupee. The financial situation looks better since the fuel prices are at low levels now, the official added.
The demand has been made as part of the Budget wishlist for the 2016-17 fiscal starting from April 1.
Air India is saddled with debt of around Rs 40,000 crore, that long-term borrowings taken for aircraft purchase and working capital purposes.
Air India has already tied up for dry leasing 14 new engine technology A320 neo planes with a Kuwaiti lessor, which are to be inducted in the financial year 2017, the official said adding the airline plans to dry lease another 30 narrow body aircraft (A320s) in its fleet over a three periods in its bid to augment capacity in the highly-competitive domestic market.
India’s domestic passenger traffic surged by a robust 25.1 per cent in November last year, fuelled by higher capacity deployment, improved economic sentiment coupled with Diwali rush, even as other major aviation markets such as Brazil, Russia and Japan delivered a negative growth during the same period, according to global airlines body, IATA.
Besides, the state-run airline will also hire 534 Airbus A320 pilots and 1000 cabin crew, in line with its aircraft induction plan, the official said.
Air India has a significant shortage of A320 flight crew due to its trained pilots quitting the airline and moving to private domestic carriers and foreign airlines.
At present Air India has 1,441 pilots, with 670 of them flying 66 A320 family aircraft. Besides, another 70 pilots are under training.