CAG report on Air India criticizes govt, aviation ministry

CAG report on Air India criticizes govt, aviation ministry

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has criticized the government and the aviation ministry for the purchase of planes worth $11 billion by state-owned Air India when it couldn’t afford to do so.

In its report on the carrier for 2002-10, the government’s auditor has also found fault with what what it said was the excessively liberal grant of flying rights to foreign airlines and the botched merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

Praful Patel was civil aviation minister during most of the period the auditor reviewed, having shifted from the department in January after a six-year stint. He is now the cabinet minister for heavy industries.

Air India, which has around Rs40,000 crore of debt on its books, is in the midst of a government-backed rescue programme, the first time in its history that the carrier has had to seek money from the exchequer. It made record losses of more than $1 billion in each of the last two fiscal years and has been defaulting on payments to employees, oil companies and airports.

The report was introduced in Parliament on Thursday, the last day of the monsoon session.