PAC to focus on AI's aircraft purchases, flying rights awards

New Delhi: India's apex parliamentary body, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), looking into flag carrier Air India's massive debt build-up has sought replies from the ministry of civil aviation regarding the $11 billion (Rs54,340 crore) deal to buy Boeing and Airbus commercial passenger aircraft.

At the time of the order Air India and Indian Airlines were separate entities, dedicated to international and domestic services respectively.

The PAC has sought answers to 33 questions, including the reason for a long delay in procuring the aircraft in the 1990s and then significantly increasing the order.

The panel has also sought answers for the generous award of flying rights to foreign airlines, especially in West Asia, which critically hurt Air India's market share.

According to reports, the PAC's questions are patterned on queries raised earlier by the government auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

Two months back, in a 121-page report, the CAG criticized the aviation ministry for decisions related to aircraft purchases.