CBI presses ahead with Airbus probe

June 05, 2014 10:59 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 11:29 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

A year after registering a case for alleged irregularities in the Rs. 8,399-crore deal struck by the erstwhile Indian Airlines with Airbus Industrie for supply of 43 passenger planes, the CBI has decided to send a team to the U.K. to record the statement of a top executive of the European consortium. File photo

A year after registering a case for alleged irregularities in the Rs. 8,399-crore deal struck by the erstwhile Indian Airlines with Airbus Industrie for supply of 43 passenger planes, the CBI has decided to send a team to the U.K. to record the statement of a top executive of the European consortium. File photo

A year after registering a case for alleged irregularities in the Rs. 8,399-crore deal struck by the erstwhile Indian Airlines with Airbus Industrie for supply of 43 passenger planes, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to send a team to the U.K. to record the statement of a top executive of the European consortium.

“Investigations conducted so far have thrown up some questions on the basis of which we will seek clarifications from Airbus executive vice-president Kiran Rao,” said a senior CBI official here on Thursday. The move indicates that the investigation is being speeded up. The deal was finalised during the UPA-I regime when NCP leader Praful Patel was the Civil Aviation Minister.

The deal came under the CBI scanner, and the agency registered a case in March 2013 against seven senior functionaries of Indian Airlines, which was later merged with Air India, and Airbus.

The CBI had about three years ago instituted a preliminary inquiry into the delay in fulfilment of certain conditions of the contract requiring Airbus to assist in the setting up of a maintenance, repair and overhaul unit, a warehouse and a training centre at a total cost of $175 million. Airbus then denied charges of any irregularity.

“While the preliminary inquiry was concluded in 2012, the Civil Aviation Ministry granted permission to prosecute the airline officials in 2013, following which a regular case was registered,” the official said.

In its Performance Audit Report on Civil Aviation in India (2011-12), the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India said: “The commitments made by Airbus regarding creation of MRO and training facilities were quite open-ended. Unlike the other clauses, there was no mention of a timeframe by which such facilities will be created … It was not clear who or what combination of promoters (Airbus and/or other entities) would together make up the required investment.”

The clearance to go ahead with the deal was given in September 2005 by an Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by the then Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram. The EGoM nod came after it concluded talks with an Airbus delegation. At that time, Mr. Patel said Indian Airlines could go ahead with the purchase of 19 A-319, four A320 and 20 A-321 aircraft. The new passenger jetliners were meant to replace 70 per cent of Indian Airlines fleet.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.