GoM to decide on AI equity, Dreamliners on 27 October

GoM to decide on AI equity, Dreamliners on 27 October

New Delhi: A group of ministers (GoM) led by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet on 27 October to decide on additional equity infusion into Air India (AI), the fate of a $4 billion (Rs 19,600 crore) aircraft purchase order from Boeing Co. and to approve a plan for the carrier to turn profitable.

The meeting, earlier planned for 17 October, was deferred by 10 days on the aviation ministry’s request, two government officials said. Clearing the turnaround and financial restructuring plan for the money-losing national carrier will be on top of the group’s agenda, said one of the officials, who declined to be named. Air India has sought 6,600 crore additional equity in this fiscal alone. The future equity infusion commitment will be based on the new turnaround plan prepared by a group of officers from the finance ministry.

The agenda includes a review of the decision to buy nearly $4 billion worth of 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft ordered in 2005, the same official said. This may include cancelling, deferring or reducing the order.

The Air India board left the decision on the Dreamliners to the government at a 15 September meeting, while stressing it needs the aircraft to stay competitive, Mint reported on 16 September.

The plane purchase needs to be funded by the government.

The much-delayed planes are set to start arriving in December but given the uncertainty on the fate of the order the airline has stopped all training of its personnel on the aircraft till a direction from the GoM.

It has also not opened any new route bookings, typically done three months in advance for international sectors on which the Dreamliners are supposed to fly.

Air India expects at least two 787s in December, Mint reported on 10 August.

The ministers are also expected to review the operational performance of the airline in the past few months but are unlikely to get a report on human resource integration, the second official said. An external panel looking into the integration of employees of Air India and Indian Airlines is expected to submit its report by November.