The government also asserted that with regard to safety issues for air travellers, it will be the endeavour of the government "to keep our airports and skies absolutely safe" through foolproof adherence to prescribed international standards. "By cutting its operational expenses by almost 11 per cent, Air India has turned from a Rs.2,636 crore loss making unit in 2014-15 to a Rs.8 crore operational profit unit in 2015-16," Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said while...
replying to the debate on demand for grant for his ministry. The minister also pointed out that Air India joined Star Alliance in 2014, "which has helped it to integrate better with the international civil aviation market". The minister also recalled the unique contribution of Air India in the "hour of crisis -- evacuating about 6,000 nationals from Yemen, 1,300 from Iraq and Libya and 17,500 passengers from quake-affected Nepal".
He informed members that by 2020, Air India's fleet size is likely to grow, by about 100 aircraft to about 232, and of this 28 more aircraft will be added by January 2018.
Earlier, responding to members who during the debate raised issues concerning air passengers, the minister said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has decided to use technology as an "enabler" and that a comprehensive e-governance project will be launched to offer 160 services online to stakeholders. "This system will promote transparency, increase efficiency and service delivery, leading to greater ease of doing business. The first set of such services will be launched in May 2016," Raju said.
Among other innovative schemes, the minister said Cochin airport has become the "first in the world to exclusively run on solar energy with a total installed capacity of 12 megawatt".
Delhi and Hyderabad international airports also have eight and five megawatt solar plants respectively.
With regard to safety issues, Raju said it will continue to be the endeavour of the government "to keep our airports and skies absolutely safe through foolproof adherence to prescribed international standards". He said there was a "high degree of satisfaction" that in a very recent survey it was found that passenger and cargo security satisfaction level were assessed to be 99.25 per cent against a world average of 66 per cent.
Earlier, the government in March said that with substantial improvement, Air India is expected to post an operating profit of Rs. 8 crore in the current fiscal, the government said on March 15. It may be mentioned that ever since Ashwani Lohani, who can “handle sick companies and turn them around” and also known as “Mr. Turnaround” took charge on August 20 last year as the chairman and managing director (CMD) of ailing national carrier for three years, the Maharaja seems to be flying high again. Lohani is also credited with the turnaround of the ITDC post-disinvestment in 2001-02. This would also be the first time since the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines that the national carrier would be reporting an operating profit. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma told Rajya Sabha that Air India is expected to “post substantial improvements” as per the revised estimates of 2015-16 compared to the previous financial year. “Air India is expected to earn operating profit of Rs. 8 crore as compared to the operating loss of Rs. 2,636.18 crore in the previous year. This is the first time that the company is going to achieve operating profit since its merger in 2007-08,” he said in a written reply.
Lohani's appointment came at a crucial juncture when the government is trying hard to bail out the ailing Air India from its financial mess and put it on the road to profitability. Air India reported a net loss of Rs.5,547.47 crore in 2014-15 with total revenues touching Rs.19,781 crore. The loss was bigger than in the previous fiscal but the airline managed to reduce it from the 2012-13 figure of Rs.7,559.74 crore. Air India’s financial performance during 2014-15 fell well short of its internal estimates, which had pegged the net loss at Rs.4,346 crore and revenues around Rs.21,290 crore. Air India’s total debt is Rs.50,000 crore and its combined losses stand at a whopping Rs.30,000 crore.