Delhi spots irregularities, tells Air India to stop sale of 6 freighters

2012 03 01

INDIAN Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has told state-owned Air India to scrap its tender to sell six cargo freighters after finding irregularities, top sources have told the Indian Express.

The Indian flag carrier's regional subsidiary, Alliance Air, headed by Vipin Sharma, had issued a global tender in December to sell six Boeing 737-200 freighters and spares.

"The tender was against norms as it did not mention any reserve price for these aircraft," said a senior civil aviation ministry official. The matter was brought to the notice of Mr Singh, who ordered an immediate inquiry. "The minister has asked for the tender to be cancelled," said the source.

But Air India only said the bidding date had been extended until March 5. "The tender has not been scrapped," said a spokesman.

The aircraft were converted from passenger to cargo five years ago after undergoing massive engine overhauling and a total expenditure of nearly INR3 billion (US$6.1 million), said sources.

"These aircraft were hardly used for four to five months and remained grounded. The engines alone for these aircraft can fetch INR15 billion to INR20 billion each," the source said. "Absence of a reserve price makes the auction process arbitrary. The tender can be manipulated to benefit a certain party," said a ministry official.

The aircraft, which are at least 25 years old, were transferred from passenger service after the airline decided to brand Alliance Air as a cargo airline.

While four of these aircraft are stationed at Delhi, rest are at Kolkata. The spares included eight engines, aircraft seats and rotables.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

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