NEW DELHI: Fuel supplies have been restored to debt-ridden Air India at six airports following government-mediated talks, after a two-and-half-week suspension by oil companies over the late payment of dues, local media reported.
Fuel supplies were suspended on August 22 amid reports that the national flag carrier owed three state-run oil firms more than 45 billion rupees ($630 million).
Following the talks, Air India agreed to pay them one billion rupees a month to clear the debt, an airline spokesman told the Press Trust of India late Saturday.
A spokesman for the oil firms said “supplies to Air India resumed from Saturday evening.” The airline had continued to fly from the six locations — Pune, Ranchi, Patna, Mohali, Kochi and Vishakhapatnam — by looking at alternative routes and filling up on fuel elsewhere.
The Indian government in 2018 shelved plans to sell a 76 percent stake in Air India after failing to attract any bidders.
The airline, founded in 1932, was once the country’s monopoly airline, known affectionately as the “Maharaja of the skies.”
But it has been haemorrhaging money for years and it has lost market share to low-cost rivals in one of the world’s fastest-growing airline markets.
Successive governments had spent billions of dollars to keep it flying before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet last year gave the go-ahead for a sell-off.