Various government departments and ministries had pending payments amounting to Rs 278.49 crore to Air India, according to RTI information from the flagging national carrier which is being sold to the Tata Group.
According to Air India’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) request filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retired) on 20th January 2022, the dues are under multiple counts and were reportedly pending until October of Last year. The government has already stopped booking through credit facilities by its departments on Air India before the divestment.
This pending amount includes Rs 244.78 crore from over 700 government departments and sections in September 2021 and Rs 33.71 crore to various VVIP flights as of July 27, 2021, according to the data. This also includes the Prime Minister’s flight dues of Rs 7.20 crore and the President’s flight dues of Rs 6.14 crore. The latest audit was carried out on October 7, 2021, Air India said.
The Ministry of External Affairs owes Rs 20.37 crore, the Ministry of Interior owes Rs 7.20 crore and the Ministry of Defense owes Rs 6.14 crore.
When asked to provide financial data by year starting from financial year 2016 on the amount not recovered but accounting adjustments made by each of these public authorities, Air India stated in RTI’s response, “to As the divestiture process continues, the requested information will be provided later.”
Among other dues, Lok Sabha, New Delhi, owes Rs 2.38 crore; Airport Authority of India around Rs 53 lakh; Under Secretary, Lok Sabha Sect Rs 2.40 crore; Defense Comptroller Rs 2.45 crore; Senior Executive Officer, Rajya Sabha Sect Rs 4.91 crore; Ministry of External Affairs around Rs 5.2 crore; Lok Sabha sect, Rs 4.29 crore; Executive Officer, Lok Sabha Sect Rs 18.15 crore; Post Department Rs 9.52 crore; Commissioner of Customs Rs 64.37 crore; Defense Accounts Controller (Navy) Rs 16.84 crore; Indian Embassy in Paris Rs 1.21 crore; and Indian Embassy Kathmandu Rs 1.19 crore.
Various sections of the civil aviation department itself owe nearly Rs 5 crore to Air India which is suffering huge losses. According to the carrier, about 790 administrations and ministries owe him money.
The outstanding Vice President’s flights were Rs 10,219 crore, the evacuation flight charges were Rs 7,214 crore and foreign dignitaries Rs 2.94 crore. According to C&AG Report 40 of 2016, as of March 31, 2016, the government owed Air India Rs 513.27 crore towards VVIP and other charter flights including evacuation combat and aircraft maintenance.
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With the process of divestiture of Air India and Air India Express underway, Air India has terminated all credit facilities to ministries. “Therefore, all Ministries/Departments are required to immediately settle the amounts owed by Air India. Air India TTYs can be purchased in cash until further notice,” the Expenditure Department of the Ministry of Finance said. in a memorandum from the office on October 27, 2021.
However, amending the October order, the Expenditure Department issued another order on December 31, 2021, stating that “in all cases of air travel where the Government of India bears the cost of air passage, the officials concerned must travel by Air India only. and air tickets must be purchased directly from Air India or using the services of the three Authorized Travel Agents viz. Balmer Lawrie & Company Ltd, Ashok Travels & Tours (ATT) and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation.
“To ensure timely payment of the air ticket to travel agents, to confirm the completion of the trip, the employee must submit a certificate/undertaking in the prescribed form within 7 days of the end of the trip. The technical support invoice can be submitted later in accordance with the rules in force,” he said.
In October 2021, the government issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) confirming the sale of its 100% stake in the loss-making Air India Group to the Tata Group for Rs 18,000 crore. The government had accepted an offer from Talace Pvt Ltd, a unit of the group’s holding company, to pay Rs 2,700 crore in cash and take over Rs 15,300 crore of debt from the airline. Air India’s accumulated losses of Rs 70,875 crore have resulted in the erosion of the company’s net worth.
Employees of Air India and Indian Airlines have come under the Employees Provident Fund (EPFO) since January 1, 2022, with the Ministry of Labor repealing related legislation which until now allowed them to be part of the exempt trust .