New Delhi: The government is committed to disinvestment of Air India but wants the national carrier to remain in Indian hands, Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday. Also Read - Lok Sabha TV, Rajya Sabha TV Merged, Channel Name Changed to Sansad TV
Responding to a series of supplementaries during Question Hour, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also said though Air India is doing “extremely well”, the debt burden on the carrier is “unsustainable”. Also Read - International Flight News: Fly to Maldives Directly From THIS City | Check New Flights by Air India, Vistara, SpiceJet
Referring to the airline sector in the country, he said except in April when Jet Airways ceased functioning, the market growth has been on an average at 17 per cent per annum. Also Read - Lok Sabha MP Mohan Delkar Found Dead in Mumbai Hotel, Suicide Suspected
When Jet ended its operations, there were 540 aircraft with Indian carriers and the number now stands at 570-580 and new planes are being introduced every month.
Manish Tewari (Cong) wanted to know why the government was disinvesting Air India when it was dong well. Puri said the debt burden of the airline was a major reason the Centre wanted to disinvest it.
He said the previous attempt to disinvest the carrier could not succeed. But now the government has learnt lessons and mechanism will ensure the move this time.
He also said the government wants the airline to remain in Indian hands and the disinvestment mechanism will take care of the details.
The minister also informed the House that when the Pakistan airspace was closed following a standoff between the two countries, Air India had to spend an extra Rs 430 crore on longer routes.