Air India board to meet FM

Air India board to meet FM

New Delhi: Air India’s new board will meet finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday to ask for sops for the beleaguered flag carrier, including the restructuring of its Rs21,000 crore debt.

This will be the board’s first meeting with Mukherjee since its appointment in March. The members may also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later, two officials said on condition of anonymity.

A key issue on the agenda will be the restructuring of Air India’s high-cost debt into a low-cost debt, one of them said. The other official said the board members, after discussions among themselves, will convey their views on improving the fortunes of the airline to Mukherjee.

Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav and civil aviation secretary Madhavan Nambiar will also attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Separately, the home ministry has cleared the appointment of Dubai-based Indian businessman Yusuff Ali M.A. as the fifth member on the airline’s board.

Air India has a working capital loan of Rs17,000 crore. Recently, it also took a Rs5,000 crore loan at 12% interest to buy aircraft.

Talks about a pending “letter of comfort" from the finance ministry to help Air India raise its working capital limit and improve creditworthiness are also on the cards, one of the officials said.