Petroleum minister takes on colleague, Jet Airways (Lead)

October 16th, 2008 - 11:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) Petroleum Minister Murli Deora Thursday hit out at his counterpart in the aviation ministry Praful Patel for terming him unhelpful - and also took on Jet Airways for laying off nearly 2,000 employees.”I am disappointed and hurt by Praful’s comments,” Deora told reporters.

On Wednesday, Patel had said “many departments are not taking a positive approach” on the downturn in India’s civil aviation sector. “I am disappointed with finance minister and petroleum minister for not helping the aviation industry,” he added.

Deora said he had instructed oil marketing companies to find ways to help the aviation industry, adding: “When I came to know about the letter from the oil companies (cutting back on extended credit to airlines), I told the oil companies that we must find a way to give them credit.”

According to Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey, Jet Airways owes Rs.8.59 billion and Kingfisher Airlines Rs.1.1 billion to oil companies.

National Aviation Co of India Ltd (Nacil) that runs Air India has an outstanding of Rs.6.06 billion as on Oct 8.

“This money has not been paid in spite of giving them a credit of 60 days,” Deora said, adding that the airlines also should stick to their commitments and pay the oil companies.

“These are difficult times for them (airlines) and oil companies. IOC (Indian Oil Corp), Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum practically live on borrowings and so the airlines have to clear their outstandings,” he told a private television channel.

Deora added that the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was linked to taxes, which fell under the purview of the finance ministry and state governments.

According to him, the ATF prices will be revised by the month-end.

Pandey said the ATF prices were fixed at imported price parity, as 80 percent of the crude oil used to produce the fuel was imported.

Deora also had Jet Airways in his cross-hairs Thursday for sacking 850 employees and saying it would sack 1,150 more. He said the “timing of the decision was in bad taste”.

“This is not the right time to retrench people, particularly before Diwali… I do not approve of such a move and you cannot just do such a thing,” he told reporters.

“I will appeal to (Jet chief) Naresh Goyal to please not resort to such extreme steps,” Deora added.

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