NEW DELHI: For the first time in several years, Air India has not made an operating loss even though its financial condition continues to be “precarious”, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju said today.
Replying to a question on the financial condition of the state-run airline after its merger with Indian Airlines, the minister said “after many years, this is the first year it has not made an operating loss. It is going in the right diection and I think if this effort continues, it will be an airline we will all be proud of.”
Observing that Air India, despite its massive loans, is trying to stay afloat, he said its financial status “is fairly precarious. It has got a lot of loan…Historically it has come to it and they are doing their best to keep it afloat and to see that it performs second to none.”
Raju said in Rajya Sabha during Question Hour “we of course would like Air India to survive. So we are trying that on the government side and we are supporting it.”
In order to improve Air India’s on-time performance, it has recruited 265 pilots in the last one year to address shortage besides hiring 902 additional cabin crew members.
“Historically there have been certain problems, so we have gone into recruitment of pilots, cabin crew and we have also given permission to Air India to take a loan of 300 million dollars by external commercial borrowings and all steps are taken to turn it around,” Raju said.
It is necessary that any airline should perform in time and service disruption are the worst things, he added.
“As a result of these initiatives, the on time performance of Air India has improved from 74 per cent in the period of January to July 2015 to 78 per cent in the same period in 2016,” Raju said.
He said food was being served through reputed caterers and the airlines’ constant endeavour was to improve on it.