Airline chiefs meet Manmohan Singh

New Delhi: Top bosses of Indian air carriers today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek government help for the cash-strapped airline industry including rationalisation of taxes on jet fuel.

Those who attended the hour-long meeting included Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal, Indigo promoter Rahul Bhatia, Spice Jet CEO Neil Mill and Go Air owner Jeh Wadia. The meeting comes in the wake of some airlines demanding change in the aviation policy to allow foreign airlines to pick up stake in Indian carriers.

Ahead of the meeting, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi had noted on Friday that the airline sector in the country is running at loss posing a "problem". "PM is concerned about it, it`s the major institution of connectivity, supporting the development of the country," he added.

To a query about moves to go for Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) in the aviation sector, the minister had said that he cannot make any comments since Parliament is in session.

The Prime Minister had said on November 12 that Government will explore "ways and means" to help the private airlines. Singh had said that private sector airlines should be managed efficiently. "But if they do get into difficulties, we have to find ways and means to help them get out of the process," he added.

Kingfisher Chief Vijay Mallya has questioned whether it was his airline`s "duty" to fly on loss-making routes. Thousands of passengers were affected after the private airline cancelled hundreds of flights.

The Industry Ministry has moved a draft Cabinet note on allowing 26 per cent FDI by foreign airlines in the domestic carriers. "Private airlines in the country are in dire need of funds for their operations and service upgradation to compete with other global carriers," the note circulated by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had said.