Air India Staying Afloat Despite “Precarious” Finances

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Air India has found itself in deeper financial trouble. The main reason behind this is related to a complete ban on the scheduled passenger flights in India since the 22nd of March. Moreover, Air India has since then been operating special non-revenue flights to help bring in medical supplies and also to repatriate foreigners in India. However, Air India’s chief Rajiv Bansal said on Thursday that the airline has, until now, managed to keep afloat despite ‘precarious’ finances.

Air India will be expected to operate more non-revenue flights in the coming days. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commmons 

Air India and its financial fragility

Air India has shown financial fragility for a long time. The airline has always been in the news for the massive amount of loss it makes every year. In the past decade, the airline has shown a consistent trend of increasing yearly losses, which have accumulated to Rs 69,575.64 crore ($9.13 billion). The current crisis is only going to add to its already existing problems.

Air India’s CMD, Rajiv Bansal, reiterated the crippling financial state of Air India to the Press Trust of India. He said,

Air India has been passing through a critical financial condition much before the COVID-19 onslaught. The crippling effect of the pandemic, especially in the aviation sector, has further plummeted our finances to a precarious position. Despite this, your airline has left no stone unturned to continue to remain afloat.

The Indian government has for a long time planned for the privatization of the airline. However, governments attempt to do so in 2018 and earlier this year didn’t attract any buyers. With financial losses expected to peak post-coronavirus, Air India’s survival might be in danger.

Air India
There is a big question mark over Air India’s survival post-coronavirus. Photo: Airbus

A helping hand

Being the national flag carrier of India, Air India has taken up the responsibility of helping the country in times of need. As part of the government’s emergency relief UDAN scheme, Air India and Alliance Air have, over the last two weeks, operated over 100 charter flights to ferry medical equipment and other essential items.

Additionally, Air India had last month operated special rescue flights to Wuhan, Tehran, and Milan to help evacuate Indian citizens. Since the 25th of March, it has also flown special charter flights to Frankfurt, London, and Paris to evacuate foreign nationals stuck in India. In the past week, it has operated several flights to Shanghai to bring back essential medical kits.

Alliance Air
Air India & Alliance Air have been at the heart of rescue operations since the outbreak of COVID-19. Photo: Venkat Mangudi via Wikipedia

Evidently, Air India and its employees are still playing a crucial role in the country’s battle against the coronavirus. Moreover, pertaining to the Indian government’s request for practicing social distancing, Air India has announced that it won’t operate any scheduled passenger flights at least until the 1st of May.

To conclude, it might be a bit early to predict if Air India will survive through the financial turmoil. However, the worst times have surely brought the best out of them.

This was articulately stated by Rajiv Bansal to PTI:

Adversity brings the best out of us and is a litmus test of our courage and strength of character. This is also the time to show how much we care for one another.

Air India has surely proven its importance to the Indian community. Do you think it will survive post coronavirus brunt? Let us know in the comments.

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