Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia speaking to television channel ET Now on Thursday said that Modi government’s decision of disinvestment of Air India was a good move for the country, but added that buying a stake in it won’t be a walk in the park for IndiGo. Adding to his comments, Tony said he has always been an advocate for privatisation of airlines and said if IndiGo plans to buy stakes in Air India, it will be good for the country. Calling it a positive move, Fernandes added that many companies will wish to buy and fix debt issues. However, he said that whoever goes on to buy Air India will have to make the business sustainable.
Fernandes said that Indigo’s plan to buy a stake in Air India was positive as it will be able to have a goal for Air India. Indigo which was launched in 2006 is owned by Interglobe Aviation and is India’s largest airline by market share. When contacted by media, a Indigo spokesperson declined to comment.
“Whether IndiGo will make a success of it, only they know best. It would not be a walk in the park but I am sure they have evaluated everything before making this bid,” he said. IndiGo earlier in the day had written a letter enquiring about Air India, reported news agency PTI. “IndiGo has written a letter with an unsolicited expression of interest (EOI) in the divestment procedure of Air India,” Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said. In this letter, the airline had expressed the desire to international operations of Air India and its low-cost wing, Air India Express. Currently, Air India is under a debt of Rs 52,000 crore. As soon as the news came out, shares of InterGlobe Aviation, which operates IndiGo airline, fell by over 2 per cent.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today said that he was against the disinvestment of Air India. “I was against doing it, but the cabinet decided it otherwise. But, now what is necessary is that the valuation of Air India should be done properly and not to favour anybody as foreign companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Morgan Stanley have been tasked to do the valuation of the Air India,” Swamy told ANI.