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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.
Keywords: Airbus probe, Indian Airlines-Airbus deal, CBI probe, Performance Audit Report on
Civil Aviation in India, EGoM nod