New Delhi, July 12: Air India may hire expat advisers and delay buying aircraft as part of a restructuring process to cut its Rs 7,226-crore loss.
Around 60 aircraft, which were to be inducted by 2011, will now be delivered over a longer period, which could stretch to 2015-2016. As an immediate step, the government wants the purchase of seven Boeings to be delayed. This will save the airline over Rs 8,000 crore.
Air India has inducted some 11 Boeing 777s and 15 Boeing 737-800s over the last two years for its international routes. However, many of these planes are not flying to their full capacities after the global recession led to a fall in passenger count.
If these planes had not been bought, the airline could have avoided more than Rs 15,000 crore in loans. Overall, the airline had ordered about 111 planes — 68 Boeings and 43 Airbus — valued at over Rs 44,000 crore.
Sources said the civil aviation ministry was toying with the idea of allowing expat directors to advise Air India. Government rules do not allow expat directors on the board of state-run companies.
However, the airline, which may get a high profile advisory board with top Indian CEOs as members, will continue to be run by an IAS chairman-cum-managing director as it has been for the last eight years. It will also continue to have 10 functional directors and 40 executive directors.
The ailing airline will consider spinning off its strategic business units such as engineering, cargo and ground handling into independent units and tap their potential. Its 31,000 employees will be readjusted between the main airline and the business units.
Sources said there were plans to hive off the units later into joint ventures, while retaining the main airline in the government fold.
Air India, which has run up over Rs 5,000 crore in losses during 2008-09, has been seeking an equity infusion of about Rs 1,250 crore and soft loans of around Rs 3,000 crore from the government.
However, the airline will first have to come up with a credible restructuring package to get the bailout package. It is expected to submit its revival package to a committee of secretaries, headed by the cabinet secretary, by the end of this month.