New Delhi – Under attack from MPs for offering relief to private airlines at the “cost of common man”, the Government on Thursday denied that any financial bailout package has been given to any airline.

“No financial cheque or relief has been given to the private airlines. Only thing is that credit period for current purchases of fuel has been increased to 90 days from existing 60 days,” Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told Lok Sabha.

In a significant relief to cash-strapped airlines, the government on Wednesday had allowed them to clear their Rs 2,962 crore outstanding in fuel bills in six monthly installments besides increasing the credit period.

“No cheque has been given to any airline…bailout is wrong…and no loss to any Oil company,” he said.

After Wednesday’s meeting between Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Patel to provide relief to defaulting airlines like Jet Airways, Kingfisher and state-owned carrier National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), the industry has got time till March, 2009 to clear their fuel bill outstandings.
Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways won a reprieve to pay its Rs 1,057 crore due to oil companies by March 31, 2009 while Vijay Mallya-run Kingfisher will pay its Rs 983 crore dues spread over six months. NACIL, which runs Air India and Indian, will also clear its Rs 886 crore dues in the period.

Patel admitted that air traffic has slowed down for the first time in last four years.

He, however, assured the members that the government’s plan to add a number of airports and modernising the existing facilities would not be affected by the slowdown.