Air India suffered losses amounting to Rs 430 crore in the over four-month period when the airspace over Pakistan was closed following the airstrike at a terror camp in Balakot, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Puri was replying to supplementary questions on the government’s plans to privatise the national carrier. He said the government was committed to privatisation of Air India, but is working on a turnaround plan to make it profitable before taking a decision. He said 40 per cent of the airline’s operating expenses are on fuel, and that geo-political developments also come into play at times.
“In order to privatise it, there is a turnaround plan in order to give it operational efficiency and also to make it profitable in the immediate term. We will be ending the financial year 2018-19 on March 31 with an operating loss of something like Rs 7,000 crore. But in the financial year 2019-20… the airline is expected to make a profit,” he said.
The government, he said, “proposed to establish an alternate mechanism and that alternate mechanism will take the decisions for privatisation…Some of these factors are beyond the government’s control. Forty per cent of the operating expense of an airline goes in what is called aviation turbine fuel. Then you have geopolitical developments. We were very happy yesterday when the airspace was reopened by neighbouring country. Air India had already incurred a loss of something like Rs 430 crore in the four months or so…” he said.