As talks on the privatisation of Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) continue, Ashwani Lohani, its chairman and managing director, declared on his personal Twitter account on January 4 that “Rumours reg[sic] Air India shutting down or closing operations are all baseless.”

He added: “Air India would continue to fly and also expand and there should be no cause for concern whatsoever to travellers, corporates or agents. Air India the national carrier is still the biggest airline of India.”

His comments came three weeks after he told India's Ministry of Civil Aviation that the carrier’s financial situation was “grossly untenable” for sustaining operations, according to local media.

“It also needs appreciation that the overall financial situation is grossly untenable and the airline may not be able to sustain physical operations in the absence of immediate government intervention and support that we have been repeatedly requesting in the recent past,” Lohani had said in a letter to the ministry.

Lohani’s tweet also came after the civil aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, met Air India employees on January 2 to reassure them that the national carrier would continue to be operational until its privatisation process was complete, the Economic Times reported.

He told 13 unions representing the carrier's approximately 14,000 employees that their interests would be protected during the disinvestment and that the ministry would need the cooperation of employees throughout the process. The airline cannot survive without privatisation, he stressed, according to the Hindustan Times.