Government approves direct jet fuel imports, AI revamp plan

India's cash-strapped airlines, both private operators as well as national carrier Air India, will soon be allowed to import aircraft turbine fuel, or jet fuel, directly rather than having to buy it from the state-run oil marketing companies, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh announced today.

Airlines in the country are expected to have lost around Rs3,000 crore in the first six months of this fiscal alone due to high prices of jet fuel in the domestic market.

The sector as whole is expected to lose around Rs14,745 crore ($3 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 2012, according to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Kingfisher Airlines, the most cash-strapped of them all, has been at the forefront in demanding permission for direct fuel imports.

But the government's initiative in this direction seems aimed mainly at helping state-run Air India, riddled with inefficiencies like a bloated staff of some 30,000 employees who are overpaid and under-worked by industry standards and a management generally perceived as inefficient.

The biggest loss-maker of them all, AI is being kept in the air mainly on taxpayer money.