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CBI probes Air India's 68 Boeing aircraft order

Air India had placed an order for 68 aircraft, including Boeing 737s, 777s and 787s, all valued at $11 billion in Dec 2005

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing Air India's purchase of 68 Boeing planes, the civil aviation ministry has said in a Right to Information (RTI) Act response.

Air India had placed an order for 68 aircraft, including Boeing 737s, 777s and 787s, all valued at $11 billion in December 2005.

While the then-civil aviation minister Praful Patel has denied any wrongdoing and said the decision to order 68 planes was approved by an empowered group of ministers and later by the Union Cabinet, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its 2011 report faulted the purchase as it had a significant impact on the airline's financial health.

The CBI probe into the purchase of aircraft has come to light after Air India's former executive director Jitender Bhargava wrote to the civil aviation ministry seeking files on the aircraft order.

In a response to Bhargava's RTI request, the civil aviation ministry on October 31 replied that the case was under CBI investigation and the CBI had informed that the disclosure of information may impede the process of investigation.

Initially the Air India board had proposed the acquisition of 28 planes but the decision was revised and the order size increased. CAG had also questioned the hurry in placing the order for 68 planes.

In its report, CAG said Air India was advised to revisit its proposal by the ministry into expanding its requirement of aircraft. Whilst the earlier proposal for 28 aircraft had taken two years (January 2002 to January 2004) to prepare and submit, the revised long-term fleet for the 50-aircraft plan was completed in four months (from August to November 2004).

UNDER THE CBI SCANNER

  • Air India (AI) had placed an order for 68 aircraft, including Boeing 737s, 777s and 787s, all valued at $ 11 billion in December 2005
  • In a response to AI's former executive director Jitender Bhargava's RTI request, the civil aviation ministry on October 31 replied the case was under CBI investigation

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First Published: Sat, November 08 2014. 22:39 IST
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