Air India, which has turned operationally profitable after a decade, has shaved off debt of over Rs 5,000 crore from its balance sheet, a senior airline official said today. As it works towards becoming fully profitable ahead of its schedule under the 10-year turnaround plan, the carrier has brought down its debt to around Rs 46,000 crore at the end of March this year. "We have phased out more than Rs 5,000 crore debt from the books in the last fiscal and it now stands at around Rs 46,000 crore," a top Air India official said. The airline had a total debt of Rs 51,367.07 crore at the end of 2014-15 fiscal. Of the Rs 46,000 crore debt, the official said Rs 28,000 crore are short term loans and the rest are long-term borrowings. The airline is staying afloat on a Rs 30,231 crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA government in 2012 for a period of up to March 31, 2021. Earlier this year, the government had informed the Parliament that Air India had a total debt burden of Rs 51,367.07 crore as on March 31, 2015. This amount includes Rs 22,574.09 crore outstanding on account of aircraft loans and the remaining amount comprises working capital, the government had said. For the first since the merger of Indian Airlines with itself, Air India has reported an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16 on the back of lower fuel costs and higher passenger numbers. It had an operating loss of Rs 2,636 crore in 2014-15. A fall of nearly 31 per cent in fuel costs in the last financial year compared to the year-ago period was a key factor in the airline becoming operationally profitable. Sources had said the airline's net loss after interest declined to Rs 3,837 crore in the last fiscal, from Rs 5,859 crore in 2014-15.
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