State-owned carrier Air India, which is going through a disinvestment process, incurred a cash loss of Rs 3,600 crore in the financial year 2019-20, the airline's Chairman Rajiv Bansal reportedly said on Tuesday. The loss, however, was significantly lesser than 2018-19, as the airline carried out massive evacuation operation of stranded Indians from overseas since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in sequential improvement in its financial performance.
"Our financials have improved every quarter. Second quarter was better than the first quarter. The third quarter has been better. This is a good traffic season. A lot of international traffic has been there to various destinations, particularly the US. The United States and Canada continue to be our prime markets," Business Standard quoted Bansal as saying.
Bansal further stated that Air India's standalone and consolidated accounts have been compiled.
Air India reported highest-ever annual loss of Rs 8,556.35 crore in 2018-19, since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007, compared to net loss of Rs 5,348.18 crore reported for 2017-18. This was partially due to closure of airspace by Pakistan which resulted in higher costs and caused a daily loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore. The cash-strapped carrier's accumulated losses in the past decade stood at Rs 69,575.64 crore.
For the April-June quarter of the current fiscal, the airline incurred a net loss of about Rs 2,570 crore in the first quarter of 2020-21 as compared to a net loss of Rs 785 crore in the corresponding period a year ago, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha. The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
In view of the continuous losses suffered by Air India and its mounting debt burden, the government has approved disinvestment in the national carrier, which is set to enter its second stage on January 5 next year, when the names of the qualified bidders will be announced. In stage II, shortlisted bidders will be given a request for proposal (RFP), post which a transparent bidding process will take place.