Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Wednesday said it would be difficult for Air India, the national carrier which incurred losses of Rs.7,200 crore last fiscal, to survive without reduction in costs and exploring new avenues to generate resources.

Talking tough to the staff unions and the Air India management, Patel also warned that the ongoing austerity and cost-cutting measures would continue, but did not indicate till when.

“Though air traffic figures have shown some improvement in the past six months, it is difficult to continue without tightening our belts,” the minister said.

Besides cost-cutting measures that include cuts in salaries and productivity-linked incentives (PLIs), Patel said the carrier would retire some of its leased aircraft to further economise operations.

The airline would seek to lease out a few aircraft from its fleet to generate new resources, he added.

Patel also asserted that the government would step in to help only if both -- the unions and management -- complied with the central government’s directives.

Following a meeting with representatives of staff unions, the minister said they had offered to cooperate with the management and the government in an effort to save the carrier.

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