Efficient functioning and reduction in operational costs has helped national carrier Air India turn from a loss-making airline into an “operational profit unit”, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

The government also asserted that with regard to safety issues for air travellers, it will be the endeavour of the government “to keep our airports and skies absolutely safe” through foolproof adherence to prescribed international standards.

“By cutting its operational expenses by almost 11 per cent, Air India has turned from a Rs.2,636 crore loss making unit in 2014-15 to a Rs.8 crore operational profit unit in 2015-16,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said while replying to the debate on demand for grant for his ministry.

b’Source: PTI’

He also pointed out that Air India joined Star Alliance in 2014, “which has helped it to integrate better with the international civil aviation market”.

The minister also recalled the unique contribution of Air India in the “hour of crisis — evacuating about 6,000 nationals from Yemen, 1,300 from Iraq and Libya and 17,500 passengers from quake-affected Nepal”.

The minister told members that by 2020, Air India’s fleet size is likely to grow, by about 100 aircraft to about 232, and of this 28 more aircraft will be added by January 2018.

Responding to members who during the debate on Monday raised issues concerning air passengers, the minister said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has decided to use technology as an “enabler” and that a comprehensive e-governance project will be launched to offer 160 services online to stakeholders.

b’Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju along with MoS Civil Aviation and Minister of Culture and Tourism I/C Mahesh Sharma during the release of Draft Civil Aviation Policy | PTI/ File photo’

“This system will promote transparency, increase efficiency and service delivery, leading to greater ease of doing business. The first set of such services will be launched in May 2016,” Raju said.

Among other innovative schemes, the minister said Cochin airport has become the “first in the world to exclusively run on solar energy with a total installed capacity of 12 megawatt”.

Delhi and Hyderabad international airports also have eight and five megawatt solar plants respectively.

With regard to safety issues, Raju said it will continue to be the endeavour of the government “to keep our airports and skies absolutely safe through foolproof adherence to prescribed international standards”.