The government owes cash-strapped Air India more than Rs. 325 crore in unpaid bills for VVIP chartered flights to foreign countries, an RTI reply says.
The national carrier, which is on the verge of being privatised, has provided break-ups of the outstanding bills in its March 8 reply to the RTI activist and retired Naval officer, Commodore Lokesh Batra.
Of the pending bills, as on January 31 this year, Rs. 84.01 crore was carried forward from the previous financial year and the remaining generated this year, the airline says.
Air India modifies its commercial jets as chartered aircraft for overseas trips by VVIPs such as the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister. The bills are to be paid by the Defence and Foreign Ministries, the Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Secretariat.
In a separate RTI response on March 5, the Civil aviation Ministry had said that the outstanding bills totalled Rs. 345.946 crore as on December 31 last year. It said that in addition to VVIP flights, this amount included unpaid bills of Rs. 20.966 crore towards evacuation missions and the services offered to visiting dignitaries.
The March 5 reply provided a break-up that showed that the dues from the President's flights was Rs. 8 crore, that from the Vice-President's was Rs. 198.254 crore and that from the Prime Minister's was Rs. 118.724 crore.
It said the unpaid bills for the evacuations from Cairo, Iraq and Malta (of Indian citizens stuck in Libya) between 2011 and 2014 came to Rs. 11.594 crore and were pending with the foreign ministry.
Bills worth Rs. 9.376 crore towards travel by visiting dignitaries, including heads of state, remained unpaid too, it added.
A fuel bill of Rs. 23 lakh for the September 2005 flight to the US carrying relief material for Hurricane Katrina victims was pending with the Defence Ministry, it said.