Raju rules out privatisation of Air India

Tags: News
Ruling out privatisation of Air India, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today said several decisions like that on aircraft purchases were "forced" on it and taken without commercial planning in mind.

There has been "a lot of debate going on whether Air India should be privatised or not. But Air India has been doing its work which is necessary. It is called the continuing of its social commitment," he said referring to the recent evacuation from Iraq undertaken by the national carrier.

To a question on its falling market share, Raju said, "Air India has been sliding, there is no doubt about it, probably (due to) certain decisions which were forced on Air India."

Asked what were these decisions, the minister said, "Like in Parliament we face questions so similar to the allegations that have come out

... It has been pushed to, in the sense that, like buying and selling of aircraft. This does not appear to have been done with commercial plan in mind."

"Whatever intervention from outside Air India or decisions taken, do not appear to be in the interest of the airlines or aviation. So these are debatable things," he was quoted as saying in an interview to Rajya Sabha TV.

He said the airline was "pushed to financial trouble" due to the high costs of jet fuel and the cost of dollar to rupee and added that it was now implementing a turnaround plan and a financial restructuring plan for revival.

Raju said Air India's induction into the Star Alliance was a positive step which also put pressure on the national carrier to perform.

"I think this is a step in the right direction. I guess they will behave as a responsible airline and their passengers will have seamless travel to a large number of destinations."

He also said the Centre was talking to state governments to encourage aviation by taking measures like reducing taxes on fuel.

He said Tier-II and Tier-III cities would also have to get air connectivity and aviation infrastructure has to be created.

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