Air India Chief denies speculations of shutting down of AI

Air India

indica News Bureau-


Rubbishing speculations on Air India’s shutdown, Air India chief Ashwani Lohani on January 4 said that the ‘rumors’ of the disinvestment-bound airline’s shutdown are ‘all baseless’. A few weeks earlier, he had told the Civil Aviation Ministry that the carrier’s financial situation was ‘grossly untenable’ for sustaining operations.

Lohani tweeted, “Rumours regarding Air India shutting down or closing operations are all baseless. Air India would continue to fly and also expand and there should be no cause for concern whatsoever to travellers, corporates or agents. Air India is still the biggest airline of India.”

In a letter to the Civil Aviation Ministry last month, he had said that the airline needs government intervention.

“The overall financial situation is grossly untenable and the airline may not be able to sustain physical operations in the absence of immediate government intervention and support that we have been repeatedly requesting for in the recent past” Lohani had said.

However, Economic Times reported on January 1 that grounding of Jet Airways had helped national carrier boost its revenue from international operations by 20% during the first eight months of this financial year.

Quoting an Air India Officer, without disclosing his name, ET reported that the boost had come despite the closure of Pakistan’s air space for India. “The increase in numbers is despite the closure of Pakistani airspace, which impacted not only our international operations but that of all carriers using that route”, said the officer on condition of anonymity.

Air India’s total revenue from both international and domestic passengers rose 16.4% to Rs 15,056 crore during the April-November 2019 period from Rs 12,936 crore a year earlier. While revenue from international flights rose 19.9% to Rs 9,859 crore from Rs 8,220 crore, domestic revenue rose by 10% to Rs 5,197 crore, reported ET.

Whether the news that government prepares to try to sell Air India again in 2020, after a failed attempt in 2018, are yet to be confirmed.