National passenger carrier Air India is expected to report a net loss of Rs 3,579 crore for 2017-18, Parliament was informed on Tuesday. According to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, the airline is expected to make a net loss of Rs 3,579 crore as per “(budget estimates) (projected)” for 2017-18 from a (provisional) net loss of Rs 3,643 crore for 2016-17. The minister, in a written reply to question in the Rajya Sabha, said the airline is projected to increase its operating profit to Rs 531 crore (BE projected) for 2017-18 from a provisional operating profit of Rs 215 crore for 2016-17.

On the divestment plans of the flag carrier, Raju said: “NITI Aayog in its recommendations, on strategic disinvestment of the Central Public Sector Enterprises in May 12, 2017 had given the rationale for the disinvestment of Air India and has referred to the fragile finances of the company, among various other reasons.” “Air India has been incurring continuous losses and has huge accumulated losses. Further, NITI Aayog in its report on Air India has stated that further financial support in a mature and competitive aviation market would not be the best use of scarce financial resources of the government.”

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in its meeting held on June 28, 2017, had given its “in-principle” approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries and constitution of Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM). Replying to another question, Raju informed the Rajya Sabha that Air India “has presently identified 33 properties for sale”.

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