New Delhi: The CBI questioned former civil aviation minister Praful Patel on Thursday in connection with alleged corruption in giving profitable routes of Air India to private airlines based in west Asia, officials said.
Patel reached the CBI headquarters at around 11 in the morning for questioning, a source said.
The Supreme Court had handed over the case to the CBI, in which it was alleged that Patel abused his official position as the minister to make Air India and Indian Airlines give up profit-making routes and timings in favour of national and international private airlines, causing huge loss of market share of the national carriers.
It was also alleged that such acts of commission were made on extraneous considerations, causing immense losses to the national carriers and pecuniary benefit to private domestic and foreign airlines, they said.
Surprisingly, a CBI spokesperson said the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations.
It is alleged that foreign airlines were given unrestricted entry into India and major routes were given to them without taking any reciprocal benefits to Air India.
In spite of Air India incurring heavy losses, the Civil Aviation Ministry officials continued to act dishonestly in order to confer pecuniary advantage to the private domestic and foreign airlines.
The agency alleged that on domestic routes, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Indigo, Spicejet and Paramount Airways started operating and made profits.
It is alleged that Air India reduced its flights on lucrative routes like Mumbai-Dubai, Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Doha to give its opponents a major market-share.
Last month, the CBI had taken custody corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar in the case.
Also read: Happy to cooperate, says Praful Patel after ED summons him in UPA-era aviation scam