New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Monday stuck to his stand regarding the future privatisation of Air India, but said that the time was not ripe for it now and the issue was not before the present government.
"This government has only about six months left. There is no plan (for privatising Air India) and the issue is not under active consideration at all," he told reporters here.
He, however, maintained it was his personal belief that, in the future, "the government of the day will have to look at privatisation and build a political consensus on the issue before taking a position. I never said I am going to do it".
Maintaining that the government would not give any more funds to the airline after the equity infusion of Rs 30,000 crore till 2021, Singh said, "I am firmly of the view that government should not be in the service sector like hotels.
"Future governments will have to study the (privatisation) issue. But today, the time and the situation is not correct," he said.
A day after Opposition parties like BJP and the Left criticised him for his remarks on the issue, Singh said he was "amazed" to be hearing such reactions.
He maintained that Air India would have to fend for itself and its employees and the management would have to realise that aviation was a very competitive market.
"The margins are thin and it's a capital intensive industry," he said.
Air India has considerably improved its financial and operational position in the recent past, including its passenger load factor and on-time performance, Singh added.
It was also launching new international flights to destinations like Australia and planning services to Moscow and Rome.
"In the previous financial year, its EBIDTA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) was in losses to the level of Rs 2,300 crore. This year, it aims to earn a positive EBIDTA of Rs 1,000 crore," he said.
First Published: Monday, October 07, 2013, 23:12