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Plans unaffected by talk of privatization: Air India chief Ashwani Lohani

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-06-2017 PTI

Indore: Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani on Saturday said the management was doing everything to revive the national carrier and talks of privatization do not have any impact on its expansion plans.

“We are doing all that is needed to financially revive Air India. We are going to launch new domestic and international flights and for this recruitment is on,” Lohani said. “But we have inherited a heavy burden of debt (Rs50,000 crore)... Besides, there are issues related to amalgamation of Air India and Indian Airlines,” he added. He refused to comment on possibility of privatization of the national carrier and the Tata group buying a stake. “I won’t comment on the issue of Air India’s disinvestment. It is government’s domain, not mine,” he said.

Lohani, however, denied that privatization talks had dealt a setback to the airline’s expansion plans. “Our expansion plans are unhindered. 25 big and small aircraft will be inducted in the next couple of months. Our situation is improving with every passing year. Negative coverage (in media) is on decline,” he said. Lohani said Air India was going to launch flights from Delhi to Washington, Stockholm and Copenhagen in coming months. “Besides, we want to introduce flights to Los Angeles, African countries and some other cities,” he added.

Flight delays had decreased drastically, he claimed, adding that the airline was working on a plan to hire 300 to 400 pilots and 600-700 cabin crew. 10 small 72-seater aircraft manufactured by the French firm ATR will join Air India’s fleet shortly, which will give a boost to the domestic air service to smaller cities, he said. The public carrier also had plans to connect Indore with Ahmedabad and Jaipur from August-September, Lohani said.

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