Civil Aviation Minister Gajapathi Raju on Thursday brought Air India back to earth despite reporting an operating profit of around Rs 8 crore in the last quarter. It was for the first time the airliner has reported profits since its merger in 2007.
Raju said that the airliner’s books are “so bad” that nobody would come forward to buy it if put up for sale.
“Its (Air India) books are so bad. I don’t think that even if it is offered, anybody would come for it,” he said.
The state-run airliner currently is in debt of around Rs 50,000 crore.
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Despite a bail-out package of Rs 30,000 crore by the erstwhile UPA government, Air India has been grappling with mounting debts and tough competition. It has been in the red since the merger of then Air India and Indian Airlines.
In April, MoS Mahesh Sharma, in an interview with FE, said that the government plans to bring down its stake in Air India to below 51%.
Bloated workforce and poor revenues on foreign routes are among the reasons cited for its mounting debts. The reasons for it turning operationally profitable in FY16 and reducing its losses by almost half is largely on the back of low jet fuel prices and government bailout money.