Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani debunked rumours regarding shutting down operations of the airline, calling them “baseless” while asserting that it still was India’s biggest carrier.
“Rumours regarding Air India shutting down or closing operations are all baseless. Air India would continue to fly and also expand and there should be no cause for concern whatsoever to travellers, corporates or agents. Air India the national carrier is still the biggest airline of India,” Lohani tweeted.
Lohani’s remarks come a month after he told the Civil Aviation Ministry that Air India’s financial situation was “grossly untenable” for sustaining operations.
“It also needs appreciation that the overall financial situation is grossly untenable and the airline may not be able to sustain physical operations in the absence of immediate government intervention and support that we have been repeatedly requesting for in the recent past,” Lohani had written.
Lohani’s statement comes days after Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said the airline will have to shut down and stop operations if it is not privatised.
The Centre has been trying to privatise the debt-ridden airline by strategically disinvesting its shares. In 2018, the government had tried to sell a 76 per cent stake in the airline without any success.
In December 2019, Puri had told Lok Sabha that preparation of a Preliminary Information Memorandum for inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) for 100 per cent divestment of government stake was underway.
Air India, which has a debt of nearly Rs 54,000 crore, will however not be given “any further financial support” as that would “not be the best use of scarce financial resources” of the central government, Puri had said.
He had also tried to debunk the reports of Air India employees quitting their jobs due to non-payment of salaries “in the recent past 2-3 years”.
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