Jyotiraditya Scindia blames UPA for Air India downfall, defends disinvestment

Published on : 07:22 PM Mar 23, 2022

Justifying the decision to privatise Air India, the union minister said it was because of the UPA government that Air India, one of the country's Navratnas, continued to fall.

New Delhi: Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday hit back at Congress blaming the UPA regime for saddling Air India with a huge debt burden after the grand old party had criticised the government for privatising the national carrier. Scindia said that Air India, which was in profit of Rs 14-15 crores in 2005-06, had to face a loss of 85,000 crores in the next 14 years.

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Responding to the debate on the Demands for Grants of the Civil Aviation Ministry in Lok Sabha, Scindia listed out the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, purchase of 111 new aircraft and liberalisation of bilateral rights as the reasons for the downfall of the national carrier. Justifying the decision to privatise Air India, the union minister said it was because of the UPA government that Air India, one of the country's Navratnas, continued to fall.

"Before 2005, Air India was making a profit of Rs 15 crore per annum and Indian Airlines was making profit of Rs 50 crore. These airlines were made to purchase 111 aircraft at a cost of Rs 50-55,000 crore which pushed the national carrier into deep debts," Scindia said. He said the losses of 14 years had accumulated to Rs 85,000 crore. The equity infusion had cost the government Rs 54,000 crore, grants to the airline totalling Rs 50,000 crore and net debt of Rs 66,000 crore had left Air India staring at a chasm of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, the minister said. Advertisement

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"It is under these circumstances the Prime Minister took a decision to put an end to these losses. He decided on disinvestment of Air India to protect the money of 135 crore Indians and put it to good use through schemes such as Ujjwala, Jal Jeevan Mission," Scindia said. Amidst protests by Sonia Gandhi and an uproar by Congress MPs, the Aviation Minister said: "I was silent about this, did not want to say anything but you want to speak about truth... so now can hear the truth."

Scindia also clarified on the several members who had raised questions about the future of Air India employees. 0"As per the agreement of disinvestment with Tata on Air India..... the employees cannot be fired and if he wants to remove someone after one year, then that too can be done only through VRS scheme, the government is committed to providing medical facilities to Air India employees on the basis of CGHS and NHA," he said.

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Also read: Air India has 2,657 pending cases in Indian and international courts: Govt

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