NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation registered three FIRs and a preliminary enquiry to probe alleged irregularities in the merger of Indian Airlines with Air India, the purchase of 111 aircraft and termination of services on profit-making routes. The move comes at a time when the government is looking at a strategic sale of stake in the national carrier.
A criminal case has been filed against unknown officials in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and private persons to investigate the purchase of 111 aircraft for Air India at the cost of Rs 70,000 crore. The probe is based on allegations that the purchase, which happened during the UPA regime, was to “benefit foreign manufacturers”, causing further financial loss to the already-stressed carrier.
Another case of criminal conspiracy has been registered for violations under the Prevention of Corruption Act against ministry officials, NACIL, Air India and private companies. This case is to investigate allegations of leasing a large number of aircraft without due consideration, proper route study and marketing or price strategy. The FIR also alleged that aircraft were leased even while the acquisition programme was underway.
The third case, again for criminal conspiracy and corruption, was filed against several parties for giving up profit-making routes and timings of Air India in favour of international private airlines, resulting massive losses for the national carrier.The company has amassed a debt of Rs 50,000 crore over the years, of which Rs 25,000 crore is on account of aircraft valuation.
Rs 70K crore - Paid by Air India to Indian Airlines for the purchase of 111 aircraft
Merger under lens
“A preliminary enquiry has also been registered against unknown officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation and unknown others to enquire into allegations relating to the issue of merger of the two national carriers: Air India and Indian Airlines causing loss to the national exchequer,” the CBI said.