The government of India has issued a memorandum regarding the travel provisions of the government employees, which states that they can book their tickets through private airlines.
Earlier, the government staff were allowed to travel only by Air India. They were allowed to travel in other airlines only when Air India flights were not operating on the routes concerned.
“It is clarified that the air travel on government account, both domestic (including LTC) and international travel, can be made by private airlines,” according to the memorandum issued.
The Department of Expenditure of the Ministry of Finance, which issued the memorandum, has also stated some government employee regulations connected to the leave travel concession facility.
Under the newly published guideline, a government official can travel to any place in India irrespective of the distance from one’s headquarters, once in four calendar years.
However, the government officials have to continue depending on three authorized agencies for their air ticket bookings as before. These agencies include Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Balmer Lawrie and Ashok Travels.
Balmer Lawrie is a company coming under the purview of the petroleum ministry, focused on providing logistics support and a host of other businesses. Ashoka Travels and Tours Ltd is a subsidiary of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC).
The third entity, IRCTC, operates a travel portal and provides ticket booking and catering for Indian Railways. The memorandum was circulated among all ministries and departments.
Before Air India’s privatization, the central government ended the monopoly of Air India over flying millions of government employees. Post privatization of Air India to Tata Group’s Talace Private Limited, the central government did not continue the association with Air India in this regard.
Air India, too, had stopped offering credits to government agencies, as there was a massive default due to non-payment of dues. In November 2021, a response to an RTI query revealed that the government’s total due to Air India stood at INR 300 crores for both VVIP flights and other travels by the officials.
Considering the bifurcation, INR 34 crore dues were for VVIP travel, and the remaining INR 269 crore was for the tickets of the officials.