The government owes over Rs 1,000 crore as of November 30 to debt-laden national carrier Air India for VVIP charter flights.
The outstanding amount of Rs 1000.62 crore receivable by Air India for special extra section flights is due from ministry of external affairs, ministry of defence and ministry of home affairs, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha told Lok Sabha in a written response to a query.
“Regular follow ups for the same are made by Air India and ministry of civil aviation and normally such dues are cleared from time to time," Sinha added.
This is not the first instance of dues pending from the government for VVIP flights operated by Air India and the quantum of dues is almost double of what it was two years ago.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in a report tabled in March 2017, said its audit indicated that the total unpaid dues to Air India from the government as on March 31, 2016 were Rs 513.27 crore.
The audit noticed that dues worth Rs 452.54 crore towards operation of VVIP flights during 2011-12 to 2014-15 were pending.
In addition, it had said that Rs 15.32 crore was due from the ministry of external affairs for the evacuation flight services provided during June 2006 to November 2014.
“Hence considering the significant quantum of pending dues and in the context of government support to Air India for turnaround, more efforts need to be made for early action for reimbursement of dues by both Air India and government," CAG had said in the report.
Reeling under a debt burden of around Rs 55,000 crore, the airline is struggling to meet its working capital requirements and receiving this outstanding amount can help Air India tide through its immediate financial needs. The airline is currently looking to raise Rs 500 crore in short-term debt from banks.