Air India to soon revamp Board, asked to clear Rs600-cr AAI dues

New Delhi: Civil aviation minister Praful Patel said Tuesday a list of likely candidates for nomination to the board of Air India as independent directors was ready.

 ''We are going to form an independent board of directors very soon. I shall be meeting the prime minister this week and discuss all the probable names,'' the minister said on the sidelines of a management institute function. 

Air India, tottering under massive debts and struggling with falling market share, is urgently considering restructuring plans that would enable it to qualify for a government bailout package, and also allow it to emerge as a leaner avatar of its older bloated self.

Meanwhile, adding to its woes, the cash-strapped, state-owned carrier has now been asked by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to clear its dues of over Rs600 crore. These are dues accumulated from fees charged by the airports authority from airlines for using airports maintained by them.

Barring metro airports like New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, all other airports in the country are maintained by AAI.

AAI officials expressed hope that the National Aviation Company Ltd (NACIL), which runs Air India (AI), would clear its outstandings once equity infusion from the government takes place.

There are also reports that Fraport AG, the management of Frankfurt airport, had demanded bank guarantees for continuation of services to Air India.

As of 31March 2009, the AAI is owed Rs181.43 crore by Kingfisher Airlines, Rs8.18 crore by Go Air, Rs5.17 crore by IndiGo, Rs22.08 crore by Jet Airways, Rs11.41 crore by Jet Lite, Rs12.22 crore by Paramount Airways and Rs13.85 crore by SpiceJet.