Air India deal for 111 jets under ED scrutiny

The Enforcement Directorate has started scrutining alleged irregularities in the procurement of 111 aircraft worth about Rs 70,000 crore, leasing of planes and the surrender of profit-making routes and flight schedules to private airlines during UPA rule, The Hindu reported today.

The report said the ED is examining the processes used to finalise the respective contracts and their implementation; besides the decisions taken for the surrender of profit-making routes and schedules
The scrutiny was initiated after the CBI registered three FIRs in May last year and  instituted a preliminary enquiry into the Indian Airlines-Air India merger in 2007, following a Supreme Court directive while hearing a PIL.
In December 2005, the ministry of civil aviation had approved the purchase of 68 aircraft from Boeing and the next year, Indian Airlines signed a deal for 43 aircraft from Airbus.
One FIR pertains to allegations of irregularities in the aircraft purchases for which loans were taken from the US and Indian banks to finance forcing the airlines to go into debt.
In December 2017, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to conclude the probe into the aircraft purchases in the next six months.
Another FIR alleges that a large number of aircraft were leased without due consideration, proper study of routes and marketing / price strategy. It has also been alleged that the aircraft were leased while an aircraft acquisition programme was already under way, the report said.
The third case involves the allegations that profit-making routes and schedules of Air India were given up in favour of national and international private airlines, which resulted in huge losses to the national carrier.