The government owes around Rs 600 crore to Air India for using its aircraft for travel of VVIPs.
The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) has taken up the issue with the ministry of home affairs (MHA), ministry of external affairs (MEA) and ministry of defence (MoD) regarding payment of the pending amount.
A senior official in MoCA said, “These dues payable to Air India for using aircraft for travel of VVIPs.” MHA and MEA, among others, have accrued “Rs 500-600 crore” in dues till March 31.
Air India is surviving on a bailout package approved in 2012. The erstwhile UPA dispensation had in April 2012 approved a turnaround plan for the cash-strapped national carrier and committed fund infusion of Rs 30,231 crore, staggered over a period of nine years.
The airline has debt of around Rs 50,000 crore on its books and had reported losses of Rs 5,388 crore in 2013-14 as against losses of Rs 5,490 in the 2012-13.
Air India reported a net profit of Rs 14.6 crore in December 2014 as against a loss of Rs 168.7 crore registered in the corresponding period of 2013. The airline in its budget estimates for the current financial year has said it would become operationally profitable by March next year, much ahead of the TAP projections.
Meanwhile, the government is considering inducting ultra long-haul aircraft Boeing 777-300ERs to replace the ageing Boeing 747-400s in Air India One fleet, which is used for travel by the President and the Prime Minister of India.
As per initial discussions Air India will transfer two Boeing 777-300ERs to the defence ministry for VVIP use. The government will buy the two aircraft which would then be modified according to VIP requirements. They would also be fitted with sophisticated communication equipment and security kits for which certification would be obtained from Boeing. At present, Air India has a fleet pf 12 Boeing 777-300ERs.