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Air India’s operating loss more than all private airlines combined; 13 of 15 carriers in red

Samrat Sharma
Airlines, Indigo, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Operating loss, Operating revenue, Flight, MRO

Almost all airlines in India are bleeding, but some are losing much more money than the others, the government data showed. State-run national carrier Air India had an operating loss bigger than that at all the private airlines put together in the last financial year 2018-19. Meanwhile, all airlines, except for AI Express and Blue Dart Aviation, had an operating loss in FY19, according to the data provided in the Rajya Sabha by Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri. What’s more, this list of loss-making airlines doesn’t include Jet Airways, JetLite and Zoom Air, which have already succumbed to losses.

Air India, Go Air and Vistara reported the highest operating losses in 2018-19. “Hike in pilot salary, rising fuel costs, fleet expansion, volatile lease rent due to payment in dollars are the main reason for increased operating expenses of the airlines,” Pulak Sen, Founder Secretary General, MRO Association of India, said to Financial Express Online.

Maharaja’s troubles

Total operating loss of all the airlines in 2018-19 was at Rs 7,087 crore, with Air India alone losing Rs 4,330 crore. Despite an increase in operating revenue, Air India’s higher operating cost have resulted in losses. While Air India’s operating revenue rose from Rs 21,859 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 25,484 crore in 2018-19, its operating expenses shot up from Rs 21,561 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 29,814 crore in 2018-19, resulting in the huge operating loss.

Among other prominent loss-making airlines were GoAir, SpiceJet and IndiGo. India’s largest domestic carrier IndiGo too faced the same problem as Air India, ie, a rise in operating revenue but a greater surge in operating expenses, leading to a loss.

Government aid?

In a reply to whether the Government has any scheme to help such civil aviation companies in the interest of passengers, minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “There is no specific scheme to provide financial assistance to loss-making private airlines, as the management of the company including its finance is the internal matter of civil aviation companies”.

Indigo carried over six crore domestic passengers in 2018-19, which was the highest among all the airlines. Second in the list is SpiceJet with 1.77 crore passengers carried annually in the previous year, according to the audited figures reported by airlines to DGCA.

 Airlines in India: Operating losses in FY 2018-19 

  •  Air India - Rs 4,330 crore
  • Alliance Air - Rs 308 crore
  • Go Air - Rs 897 crore
  • SpiceJet - Rs 266 crore
  • Indigo - Rs 149 crore
  • Zoom Air - Rs 1.4  crore
  • Air Asia - Rs 703 crore
  • Vistara - Rs 846 crore
  • True Jet- Rs 41 crore
  • Air Deccan - Rs 28.9 crore
  • Air Odisha - Rs 5 lakh
  • Star Air - Rs 14.19 crore
  • Air Heritage - Rs 35 lakh