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All options on Air India on the table, says aviation minister

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-05-2017 Tarun Shukla

New Delhi: All options on Air India, including a proposal by government think tank Niti Ayog to bring in a strategic partner, are on the table, aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju said on Wednesday.

“That’s one of the alternatives that could be possible,” Raju said in an . “We have to come to some decision. Business as usual is not an option; otherwise Air India will close down.”

The state-owned airline has a debt of about Rs50,000 crore, of which about Rs25,000 crore are loans taken to buy aircraft.

“The situation is such that if you don’t do anything you will be damned if you do something you will be damned,” Raju said.

Niti Ayog has told the aviation ministry that it would prefer a strategic investor being brought on board the state-owned airline, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The Economic Survey 2017 recommended that the government privatize Air India, where debt piled up and losses mounted following an aircraft deal worth $11 billion around 2005 and a botched merger with erstwhile domestic carrier Indian Airlines. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing what went wrong

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