High aviation fuel prices adding to industry’s crisis: Patel

October 17th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Friday said higher prices of aviation fuel were the main reason for the crisis in the industry, hoping an expert panel set up by the government would make useful recommendations for the government to act upon.”Prices of aviation fuel is 70 percent higher in India than any other countries. But it is not because of the policy of the petroleum and natural gas ministry,” Patel told reporters here.

He said following a request, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had set up an expert panel in July to look into the problems faced by the the civil aviation sector, including the issue of high cost of aviation fuel.

“I hope in a week or two the committee will make recommendations so that the ministry can take steps.”

Earlier in the day Patel refuted reports that government was considering a financial package for airline firms.

“We have never said the government will give private companies a cheque and bail them out,” he said, adding: “We must try to rationalise taxes. Oil companies must also cooperate.”

Patel had said Wednesday he was disappointed with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora for not helping the aviation industry - a comment that was not taken kindly, especially within the government and oil establishment.

“I am disappointed and hurt by Praful’s comments,” Deora told reporters later, adding, he had even asked oil companies to find a way to give credit to airline companies for aviation fuel.”

He, however, said companies like Jet had outstanding payments beyond 60 days. According to Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey, Jet Airways owes Rs.8.59 billion and Kingfisher Airlines Rs.1.1 billion to oil companies.

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