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NEW DELHI : Various government departments owe divestment-bound Air India Ltd nearly 500 crore towards VVIP charter flights at a time the national carrier is struggling financially.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the government’s total dues on account of airfares for VVIP flights stood at 498.17 crore at the end of 31 December.

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“Usually, the credit period for government of India departments varies from 15 to 30 days from the receipt of invoice and no interest is paid to Air India in case of non-payment within the credit period," Puri said in the upper house of the parliament.

Air India has just borrowed 225 crore through a short-term loan facility from domestic lenders to refinance an earlier loan.

The total debt of Air India was 38,366.39 crore, according to the provisional figures for 2019-20. This was after an amount of 22,064 crore was transferred from the airline to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) Air India Assets Holding Ltd during 2019-20.

As of 31 March, 2020, the total net fixed assets of Air India stood at 45,863.27 crore, including land and buildings, aircraft fleet and engines, other fixed assets, right-of-use assets and intangible assets.

“The enterprise value set for bidding has not been determined so far," Puri added.

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