The Centre will end Air India’s monopoly over flying millions of government employees after its privatisation, The employees’ ticketing requirements will continue to be handled by three state-owned companies - Balmer Lawrie, Ashoka Travels and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
The companies will likely earn agency commissions and ticketing charges from the huge pool of government employees, estimated to run into a few million.
Earlier the government employees had to book with Air India in sectors it serviced. For other routes, where there were no Air India flights, employees had to take prior permission for buying tickets from other operators.
Department of investment and public asset management secretary Tuhin Kanta Panda said it would no longer be mandatory for government employees to travel by Air India after its privatisation.
Air India, too, from its part has stopped offering ministries credit for the purchase of air tickets, prompting the finance ministry to ask all ministries to clear the airlines’ dues. According to an RTI query that was replied to in October this year, the Centre’s total dues to Air India stood at ₹300 crores for both VVIP flights and travel by officials. ₹34 crores were due for VVIP flights, and ₹269 crores for tickets of officials