Onboard PM’s Special Aircraft: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has defended the move to give concessions to cash-strapped private airlines saying the bailout was not to help the rich but to save jobs.
“There is an employment angle to be looked at. If airlines close down, there will be a considerable amount of unemployment. We don’t want unemployment to become more acute, more pronounced,” he told reporters on his way back from the three-day maiden visit to the energy-rich Gulf region.
Last month, the Government asked state-run oil companies, who themselves had been facing an acute liqudity crunch in view of losses on fuel sales, not to stop ATF supplies to airlines over non-payment of bills.
They were also to give Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines time till March to clear their outstanding and extend the period in which payments for future fuel sales are to be made.
“Whatever Indian industry needs by way of Government support to maintain employment and profitability, it is the duty of the Government to help,” Singh said.
“It is not a question of helping the rich, it is helping the middle class people, those who will lose their jobs in case the companies were to make losses year after year,” he said.
Jet Airways, Kingfisher and National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), who ran a total outstanding of Rs2,962 crore on fuel bills, will get 90 days’ credit period to pay for their current purchases as against 60 days at present.
Besides, customs duty on jet fuel has been scrapped to lower ATF prices to ease their burden.