Air India Accumulated Losses Stare at Rs.78,000 Crore
Just a week after the government announced that Air India was being sold to the Tata group, Air India has come out with numbers. It just underlines that the bleeding of the national carrier continues almost relentlessly. This comes just a week after the Tatas won the bid for Air India for a total consideration of Rs.18,000 crore consisting of a cash payment of Rs.3,700 crore and the balance by way of assumption of debt.
For the fiscal year ended March 2021, Air India reported losses of Rs.7,017 crore, better than the loss of Rs.7,765 crore in FY20. However, this loss took the total accumulated loss of Air India to Rs.77,953 crore. Since Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in 2007, the company has been consistently making losses each year.
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The lower losses in FY21 compared to FY20 was largely on account of a sharp fall in expenses by 47.4% to Rs.19,083 crore. The fall in expenses is attributed to cut in variable costs as airlines remained out of operations for long periods of time due to COVID. However, it also meant that fixed costs could not be adequately absorbed in FY21.
Apart from the big losses in FY21 and FY20, Air India also reported net loss of Rs.8,556 crore in FY19 and Rs.5,348 crore in FY17. The result of all this years of losses has been that the net liabilities of Air India exceed its assets by Rs.58,316 crore. In addition, the government has been sinking Rs.20 crore of public money each day to keep the airline afloat.
This only underlines the huge task ahead of the Tata group as they look to integrate Air India into their larger aviation plan and eventually make the airline profitable. Tatas also have extraneous challenges like the COVID lag effect, high ATF prices etc. In the midst of all this, there have been allegations of the government selling Air India too cheap. Looking at the financials, it appears good enough that the government saves Rs.20 crore per day.
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