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Air-India profit at Rs 40 cr in first half

Mumbai, Oct. 18 (PTI): Air-India has made a profit of Rs 40 crore during the first six months of this fiscal and expects to touch Rs 100 crore by March-end, Union civil aviation minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said today.

While many American and world airlines have been facing losses, A-I has been able to turn around and is set to make a profit of Rs 100 crore, subject to prices of aviation turbine fuel remaining stable, he said after addressing employees on the 70th anniversary of the airline.

Civil aviation secretary and A-I chairman K. Roy Paul said talks were on to forge a global alliance. “We have held talks in this connection with senior officials of Air France and British Airways.”

Hussain said A-I’s fleet expansion plan was on schedule and till a final decision is taken, the airline would continue to lease aircraft for expansion of services.

On privatisation of five airports (at the four metros and Bangalore), he said the law ministry has given its opinion and it was in its final stages. “If it is not completed before March 2003, it would be done by the first quarter of next fiscal,” he added.

Earlier, addressing employees, Hussain assured them that there would be no retrenchment but asked them to adopt a professional approach to improve the image of the ‘Maharaja’. He described A-I as the best among the public sector undertakings and said teamwork was essential for bringing back the image of the airline.

Paul said he was hopeful about the fleet expansion plan. Air-India is launching services three times a week to New York from December, and would convert them into daily services. “We also expect to increase our services to Chicago from thrice a week now to daily,” he added. “Discipline and certain sacrifices,” he said, are necessary “if A-I is to introduce round-the-world services, which were once operated by the now defunct Pan Am.”

Referring to changes being introduced by the company, A-I managing director J. N. Gogoi said a new thrust was being adopted with the slogan “Experience the fresh new Air-India”. “Once our new products are in place we will be able to match the best in the airline industry,” he added.

In his message read out on the occasion, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee congratulated A-I on its 70th anniversary, and said over the years it played a pivotal role in promoting tourism.

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