Hyderabad, March 16 (IANS) National carrier Air India is expected to see a turnaround in 2019, over an year before what the turnaround plan envisages, Civil Aviation Secretary R. N. Choubey said on Wednesday.
He told reporters during India Aviation 2016 here that the public carrier will be making a net profit by 2019.
Choubey however, said the project was based on the presumption that oil prices remain soft.
As per the plan, Air India is to achieve the turnaround by 2020.
The official said this was becoming possible because of better passenger yield and better passenger load factor. The airline has also overcome problems like shortage of crew.
He pointed out that for the first time in 10 years, Air India will not be making an operational loss this year. “From December onwards it started making operational profits,” he said.
Parliament was told on Tuesday that Air India is expected to record an operating profit of Rs.8 crore in the current fiscal, the first time in eight years for the national carrier since the erstwhile Indian Airlines merged into Air India.
“Air India is expected to earn operating profit of Rs.8 crore as compared to the operating loss of Rs.2,636.18 crore in the previous year. This is the first time that the company is going to achieve operating profit since its merger in 2007-08,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
Choubey said on an average, the government infused Rs.2,500 crore per annum in Air India as part of the turnaround plan.
“This is good news for us but bad news for those who don’t like Air India,” said Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Air India making operational profit.
Replying to queries, he said he did not like Air India being compared with the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, which defaulted on payments to the tune of Rs.9,000 crore to banks.
“Air India definitely has lot of debts. There is no doubt about it and nobody is hiding this. But I have not heard Air India cheating somebody,” the minister said and pointed out that the public carrier has not defaulted.
Referring to Kingfisher, he termed this as unfortunate. “It should not have happened but unfortunately it happened, bringing bad name to the airlines,” he said.