Chennai: While Air India is struggling to shake itself out from its debt trap, the third quarter for the airlines was positive as its revenue from passengers increased by 20 per cent.
The carrier also saw its passenger count rise by four per cent in the December 2018 quarter. According to a senior official, the development came on the back of better aircraft utilisation, reported the PTI.
“Due to better and efficient utilisation of aircraft fleet, the passenger revenue increased from Rs 4,615 crore in third quarter of 2017-18 to Rs 5,538 crore in third quarter of 2018-19,” the official said.
The official added that the number of passengers has increased to 55.27 lakh during the quarter from 53.28 lakh in the year-ago period.
“This shows that passengers have increased by around four per cent…but our ASKM (available seat kilometres) has increased at a much faster rate,” the official said.
ASKM indicates the passenger-carrying capacity of an aircraft. It is arrived at by multiplying the number of seats occupied by the distance travelled by the aircraft in kilometres during a particular period.
The official said passengers in December increased by four per cent but the revenue from them increased by 23 per cent during the month. ‘In the third quarter, total 15 new flights were started by the company,’ the official added.
Air India earns 65 per cent of its revenues from international routes, while the remaining comes from domestic network. The airline has a fleet size of around 122 aircraft currently.
Air India has been making losses since the merger with Indian Airlines in 2007 and it is estimated to have a debt burden of over Rs 48,000 crore. Notably, the government’s efforts for strategic disinvestment of the carrier failed in May last year.
|‘We have a plan’|
|The Civil Aviation Ministry said future revenues of Air India cannot service its ‘massive’ debt and this legacy issue has to be segregated from the current challenges of national carrier.
“If you feel that future revenues can actually service the debt, it is not possible for the simple reason that the debt is so massive,” it said.
“Also, the cost of interest on the debt, when you try to service it from your revenues, Air India can never be in profit. Therefore, we have to address the debt issue. We are proactively working with the Ministry of Finance to make it happen,” it added.
“We have prepared a plan… we are trying to professionalise the entire management of Air India, right from the CEO downwards so that there will be a proper management structure, so that Air India can reach to newer heights,” Aviation Minister Prabhu, said recently.