There is no proposal to reconsider the decision to privatise Air India, which has an outstanding debt of Rs 51,890 crore, the government informed Parliament today. To revive the loss-making national carrier, the government is working on the modalities for its strategic disinvestment. To a question in the Lok Sabha on whether the government proposes to reconsider its decision to sell out the debt-ridden Air India and its auxiliary companies, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha replied in the negative. The total outstanding loans of Air India as on September 30, 2017 stand at Rs 51,890 crore as per provisional figures cited by Sinha. Of this, aircraft loans account for Rs 18,364 crore and working capital loans are at Rs 33,526 crore. In 2016-17, the airline had a net loss of Rs 3,643 crore, while operating profit rose to Rs 215 crore, the provisional figures showed.
The government also informed Parliament that there had been a ban on direct recruitment in Air India for non-operational categories of employees and that the total number of regular employees of Air India as on November, 2017, is approximately 14,006 down from approximately 32,600 at the time of its merger in August 2007.
On June 28 this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries. An Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is working on the modalities.