Air India no longer making losses

National flag carrier Air India is slowly, but steadily coming out of the red and is no more a loss-making enterprise. Instead, through efficient functioning and cost-cutting, the airline has become an "operational profit unit", the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

"By cutting its operational expenses by almost 11 per cent, Air India has turned from a Rs2,636-crore loss making unit in 2014-15 to a Rs8 crore operational profit unit in 2015-16," civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said while replying to the debate on demand for grant for his ministry.

The minister said Air India will be adding 28 more aircraft by January 2018 and that by 2020 its fleet size was likely to grow by about 100 aircraft, to about 232.

He said the government is taking all efforts to ensure safety of air travellers. ''It will be the endeavour of the government to keep our airports and skies absolutely safe" through foolproof adherence to prescribed international standards, he added.

Citing a recent survey, the minister said there was a "high degree of satisfaction" on passenger and cargo security from Air India, which was assessed to be 99.25 per cent against a global average of 66 per cent.

Also, he said Air India's entry into the Star Alliance in 2014, "has helped it to integrate better with the international civil aviation market".

Besides, the minister recalled the unique contribution of Air India in the "hour of crisis - evacuating about 6,000 nationals from Yemen, 1,300 from Iraq and Libya and 17,500 passengers from quake-affected Nepal".

On the question of improving amenities for air passengers, the minister said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has decided to use technology as an "enabler" and that a comprehensive e-governance project will be launched to offer 160 services online to stakeholders.

"This system will promote transparency, increase efficiency and service delivery, leading to greater ease of doing business. The first set of such services will be launched in May 2016," Raju said.