Visakhapatnam: Air India has made an operating profit of Rs 105 crore for the first time in nine years, during the 2015-16 fiscal. The Telugu Desam, which is the government’s alliance partner both at the Centre and in the state, was quick to take credit for it.
While the better showing with regard to the operating profit has been attributed to plummeting global crude oil prices by many, a post on Telugu Desam’s official page on the social networking site Facebook, read: “Much credit for the amazing turnaround goes to our very own Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Civil Aviation Minister.” The post is accompanied by a photograph of the minister.
Some netizens begged to differ on the cause of the turnaround. One Adamvalli Mangapatnam posted this comment: “All because of lower fuel prices...all the airways (sic) India are doing better with profits...there is nothing spl with Air India.”
In support of the minister, though, was Durga Prasad who posted: “There are some major decisions he has taken... Be aware and speak... Pulla virupu maatalu aapudaam dude. Pani chesthey, adi oppukovadam valla manaki em loss ledu.”
Crude oil prices account for around 50 per cent of the operating cost of the airlines in India. The government-run Air India, which merged with Indian Airlines in 2007, has never made any profit post the merger.
The national carrier’s Turn Around Plan (TAP) was finalised in 2011 and was approved by the then UPA government in 2012. The TAP was revised by the current government, advancing various targets, among them the operating profit.
Merchant banker SBI Capital Markets Ltd has revised Air India’s TAP and its Financial Restru-cturing Plan (FRP). “No doubt it’s a moment to rejoice, but it can’t be attributed to any one individual. The fuel prices also came down drastically and might have played a major role in securing operating profit. It can’t be seen as an individual’s achievement, but rather as a collective achievement,” said D Varada Reddy, president of the Air Travellers’ Association of India.
He added, “I admire and appreciate Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju’s leadership and administrative skills. He was responsible for the introduction of many domestic flights from Vizag and Vijayawada. Air India also opened several new intenational routes including the one to Australia, Iran and some European countries, That might have also helped the airlines in registering the much sought-after appreciation in the operating profit.”...