Air India narrows operating loss to 21.2 billion rupees

NEW DELHI Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:30pm IST

Customers stand at an Air India reservation office at the domestic airport in Mumbai May 8, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files

Customers stand at an Air India reservation office at the domestic airport in Mumbai May 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Vivek Prakash/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Air India almost halved its operating loss last year and the state-owned carrier's financial performance is continuing to improve, the government said on Tuesday.

Air India, with a share of around 20 percent of the Indian airline market, made an operating loss of 21.2 billion rupees ($353 million) in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, down from 38 billion rupees a year earlier and 51.4 billion in 2011-2012.

Total post-tax losses at the indebted airline, however, came in at 53.8 billion rupees, down slightly from a year earlier.

India's aviation industry faces high fuel costs, hefty debts and a highly competitive market that has forced fares down. All but one of the country's main carriers are losing money.

Air India "has shown improvement in its financial parameters" since the government agreed a $5.8 billion bailout package for the company in 2012, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, G.M. Siddeswara, told India's parliament.

Siddeswara also said there were no plans to try and privatise Air India, dampening expectations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government would attempt to sell off the carrier, which is dependent on taxpayer cash.

($1 = 60.1200 rupees)

(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes, editing by Louise Heavens)

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