THE INDIAN Government has admitted that the outbreak of plague in the country in 1994 has pushed its international flag carrier Air India into loss.

Air India had made an estimated loss of $6.5 million by the end of December after the first nine months of its financial year. That compares with a budgeted net profit of $40 million and an actual profit of $59 million a year ago.

Meanwhile, the Government has been pressing ahead with plans which could see new private funds put into the airline. At the end of 1994, three Indian merchant banks were invited to submit proposals for restructuring of Air India's capital. The plan is due to be finalised in June.

Airline sources say that Air India will tap into international markets to help pay for its proposed expansion, which includes plans for three Airbus A310s and three Boeing 747-400s by the end of 1997.

In December, the carrier also joined British Airways in increasing its stake in Air Mauritius from 8.5% to 12%, through a rights issue.

Source: Flight International