Will be difficult for Air India to function if it not privatised: Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri

FILE PHOTO: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photograph:( ANI )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 27, 2019, 01.49 PM (IST)

Air India is not privatised then from where the money would come for it to function?" said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday.

"If it (Air India) is not privatised then from where the money would come to for it to function? Earlier we used to go to the finance ministry to make up the operating loss. We are not getting any money from the finance ministry, we have to go to banks," Puri told ANI when asked about Air India disinvestment.

"The condition of Air India today is that it is a first-class asset. If we sell it now then bidders would come. If we take ideological positions that we don't want to sell it then it would be difficult to run it in the future," he said.

When asked people employed by Air India, Puri said: "We are committed to them to get a fair deal. 11,000 and 4,000 on contract include trained engineers. Those who would acquire the airline would also require these trained people."

Earlier in August this year, the Civil Aviation Minister had said that the government is determined to privatise Air India and people are interested in buying it.

The Parliament on August 3 passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that increases the threshold of annual passenger traffic for major airports to over 35 lakh with Civil Aviation stating that the government was committed to privatisation of Air India as its debt has become totally unsustainable.

The Bill, which seeks to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008, had earlier been passed by Rajya Sabha.

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Earlier in August this year, the Civil Aviation Minister had said that the government is determined to privatise Air India and people are interested in buying it