Centre mulls 'alternative mechanism' to give Air India a shot in the arm
Kolkata: The Central government is working on an 'alternative mechanism' for making national carrier Air India a vibrant airline. Civil Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who was at the Kolkata airport for inaugurating a solar power plant on Tuesday, said: "An alternative mechanism has been in place for what should be done with Air India. It is a beautiful airline."
He pointed out that the airline's financial books are in a bad condition as it has run into a debt trap and at the same time reiterated the government's wish to make it vibrant again.
"We are exploring several options in this direction and lot of suggestions are coming in," he said.
Private airline IndiGo has evinced "interests on the international operations of Air India".
It has been learnt that the Union government has given in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the national carrier.
The minister did not rule out the possibility of a second airport near Kolkata if land is available.
"Kolkata needs an alternative airport. If the West Bengal government gets the land, it can happen," he said, adding that land is a state subject and a huge area will be needed for an airport.
The Dum Dum airport
is expected to reach a saturation point soon, given the way it is growing in terms of air traffic.
Airports Authority of India at NSCBI Airport, Kolkata, on Tuesday commissioned a 15MW solar power plant.
It will generate 1.35 million units per month, which will reduce AAI's electricity bill by approximately Rs 1.20 crore per month as per the present CESC tariff.
Atul Dikshit, Airport Director, said that the solar power plant has been developed parallel to the primary runway at the eastern side, where the land cannot be used for installation of other modules or any other constructions due to height restrictions. The total cost of the project was about Rs 90 crore.