Government officials will no longer be bound to travel by Air India, as the Airline no longer comes under the public ambit. Tuhin Kanta Panda, secretary, department of investment and public asset management, said that it won’t be mandatory for government staff to travel in Air India now that the Airline has been privatised.
Henceforth, a significant portion of the ticketing requirements of the government employees will be fulfilled by the following three public-sector companies, Balmer Lawrie, Ashoka Travels and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
These agencies are likely to earn agency commission and ticketing charges from these bookings. Before the privatisation of Air India, government servants had to book with Air India for areas where they operated flights. In sectors where the Airline did not operate, the employees had to take prior permission to avail the services of other airlines.
Further, Air India has also stopped offering government officials credit facility for purchase of air tickets.
A circular by the Lok Sabha secretariat directs all officers to purchase air tickets against cash payment from Air India/Indian Airlines counter or from the three agents mentioned earlier, that are authorised by the Ministry of Finance for all official trips.
The Lok Sabha circular, citing the General Finance Rules, also informs officials that all air ticket bills must be submitted within the stipulated period. It also clarifies that henceforth, requests to honour the TA/DA claims post the stipulated time limit will not be entertained at any cost.
Additionally, the Ministry of Finance has directed all ministries/ departments to clear all outstanding dues of Air India immediately.