Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has ruled out any intervention on part of the government to help the embattled Jet Airways. The minister said that the government should not be seen involved in deals to help an airline.
"The ministry should not be dealing in any commercial transactions of any kind. Same thing I did for railways or for anywhere else. The issue is between banks and the management," Prabhu told PTI in response to a query about the case of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
"It is always possible. You can help a company by bringing the other down. We should not be seeing to be doing anything which would be construed or seen or actually resulting in either favouritism or doing something wrong against somebody. We did not do that," Prabhu added.
When asked if the government was involved in PSU banks taking over Jet Airways, Prabhu replied said, "What role have we got? That is exactly the point. That is what Jet Airways was trying to come with us. We said we will not play any role into this."
Last month, the Jet board had approved a debt resolution plan where the SBI-led consortium of lenders would take control of the airline. Shortly after, Vijay Mallya, the founder of Kingfisher Airlines, had alleged the banks of "double standards" under the current NDA regime for their intervention to bailout Jet Airways while the same lenders made his airline "fail ruthlessly".
On recent meetings between the ministry officials and Jet Airways' executives, Prabhu said the interactions are focussed on the safety matters related to the airlines. "There is a direct issue of safety of Jet Airways, or for that matter, any other airline," he said.
"Safety is ensured because we are telling banks that if you are taking over as management, then ensure that the safety is assured, and give enough funds for the safety," Prabhu added.
To another query on whether the aviation ministry would have remained a neutral observer had the Jet Airways gone under, Prabhu replied that it is the banks' call. "There is a law which says that any company which could not service the liability - how to deal with that. Our role is very clear. And that is what I have personally done actually. It is not to interfere into any commercial matter of any airline," he said.
Prabhu said his job as an aviation minister is to come with the policy, ensuring that policy allows growth and it allows to deal with this kind of situation.
"My policy should be robust enough to take care of situations like this... Earlier, many times, the government would be tempted to be interventionist... We are very clear that managing the airline is the responsibility of the respective board and the airline company," he told PTI.
With PTI inputs