New Delhi: Tata Sons is finally buying Air India from the Indian government for Rs 18,000 crore, bringing back the airline, started in 1932 by Tata group chairman JRD Tata, under its portfolio. The airline, which was once a source of revenue for the government, was mired in debt due to inane decisions of the UPA government and misbehavior by ministers like Praful Patel and AK Antony.
Praful Patel became the Civil Aviation Minister in May 2004, when Air India was the market leader with 42 per cent market share. The dawn of his tenure as the Aviation Minister proved to be the evening of Air India’s heyday.
Patel was allegedly involved in a fleet acquisition scam in which the ministry decided to buy 68 aircraft for over Rs 50,000 crore without any revenue plan or even a route map to deploy so many additional aircraft. Was. The NDA government had earlier proposed adding 28 aircraft to Air India’s fleet.
Of the 68 aircraft, the ministry proposed to buy 27 Dreamliners from Boeing, a deal that would have benefited the American planner. V Subramaniam, Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, opposed the decision, but was later removed.
Besides this, government analysts also questioned why an airline with a turnover of Rs 7,000 crore should place an order of Rs 50,000 crore. The CAG, which later looked into the deal, explained:
“The acquisition appears to be supply driven … does not withstand audit scrutiny considering the growth in numbers, market need … or forecasts of the future, the business viability anticipated to justify the acquisition …”
“The airline is in a crisis situation. Salary payments and ATF obligations are becoming tougher. If the airline is to survive, the management and employees will have to put personal interests aside and make some tough decisions until the airline’s health improves. “
In addition, Patel was also alleged to have favored his close friend Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines by ordering Indian Airlines managers to withdraw flights from specific areas or reschedule existing flights. He was nicknamed the “Minister of Kingfisher” by sections of the Indian Airlines for his acts.
Praful Patel’s daughter Poorna Patel had also allegedly abused Air India during her stint as the hospitality manager of the Indian Premier League (IPL). In one instance, he allegedly canceled a Delhi-Coimbatore Air India flight to fly him and some IPL players from Chandigarh to Chennai. Read also: Coal crisis: Power cut in Punjab as plants run at low capacity
Coming to AK Antony, another UPA minister, he allegedly misused Air India funds to please his wife Elizabeth Antony. Notably, Air India had purchased two paintings of Elizabeth Antony for Terminal 3 of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. In fact, he had not put on an exhibition of his paintings till that time. Air India probably had no other option. Read also: Air India sale: How years of UPA mismanagement ousted the Maharaja from power?