Cash-strapped Air India has reportedly posted a net loss of about Rs 8,400 crore in the financial year 2018-19, dented by higher operating cost and foreign exchange losses. The total revenues stood around Rs 26,400 crore during the year under review, senior officials told news agency PTI.
The state-run carrier has reported an operating loss of around Rs 4,600 crore in the last financial year mainly due to rise in fuel prices and higher costs as Pakistan closed its airspace for Indian carriers which resulted in higher costs and caused a daily loss of Rs 3 to 4 crore, one of the senior officials told the news agency.
During the three months ended June, the airline incurred an operating loss of Rs 175 to 200 crore following closure of Pakistan airspace for Indian carriers, the official reportedly said.
Due to closure of airspace by Pakistan, the national carrier had lost Rs 491 crore till July 2, according to a government data. Pakistan had closed its airspace after the India Air Force's February 26 Balakot strike.
During the period, private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.1 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively.
The officials, however, expect that the debt-laden carrier to turn operationally profitable in 2019-20. The carrier is projected to post an operating profit of Rs 700 to 800 crore, provided oil prices do not shoot up significantly and there is no steep fluctuation in foreign exchange rates.
As per the official, the load factor and yields are improving for Air India, which currently flies to 41 international and 72 domestic destinations. Load factor is a measure of seat occupancy and yield refers to the average fare paid per passenger. He reportedly said the airline is facing a financial crisis and disinvestment is the option.
Air India has a debt burden of over Rs 58,000 crore and servicing the loans is a major challenge for the national carrier as the annual outgo is more than Rs 4,000 crore.
As part of efforts to clean up the balance sheet, Air India Assets Holdings Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle of the national carrier, would issue bonds worth Rs 22,000 crore in the coming weeks, a senior official told PTI last week. AIAHL will issue the first tranche of bonds worth Rs 7,000 crore on September 16, he told the news agency.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar