In an exclusive interview with Network18's Shereen Bhan, Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel revealed that the ailing Air India will get a bailout but the figure is still being kept under wraps.
Network18: Is there any possibility of any hope of some sort of stimulus package because this was what a lot of people in the business were expecting. Not on bailout but at least on stimulus?
Praful Patel: No, I don't think the government is going to write a cheque to anybody. May be a little bit of cheque not as a stimulus but as its own responsibility as the owner of Air India.
Network18: So your going to write a cheque for Air India but not for private sector?
Praful Patel: It's not a cheque. I must differentiate that the money which is going to come to Air India is primarily on account of equity contribution. As the owner of the airline, either owner gets it through IPO or raises the money somehow or puts in his own equity. If it was Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal will bring his equity or if it's Kingfisher, Vijay Mallya will bring the equity and in the case of Air India, it's the Government of India. So it's not a cheque which is being written as a bailout or something but just a cheque been written as an owner to its own baby.
Network18: Has the decision you will be taking on the size of bailout because you know report suggest anywhere between Rs 5 to Rs 14,000 crore. What is your stand on that concern?
Praful Patel: I don't think there is any concrete figure which we can zero round on and I must admit that yes, there is need a of large inclusion of equity in Air India.
Network18: What could be a rational figure?
Praful Patel: I will not give any such number, for the simple reason... because it's budgetary proposal. The numbers are still worked out and it's been done by specialists who would be helping us.