Aviation expert Subhash Goel on Thursday said disinvestment of Air India at this time would be a suicide. “Air India is always used for tourism and for evacuation in crisis times.It is a weapon which should be sharpened. A lot of improvements can be done with the Air India and its assets. Till the Air India is put of debt trap there is no use in disinvesting,” Goel told ANI. He further said the Air India should be pulled out of the debt trap first then disinvestment should be done. “Revaluation of the assets of Air India should be done so that it can be sold out in a healthy position which will give us more profit. Anything be it disinvestment, or stock exchange should be done only after turning it around. The brand value of Maharaja is such that to cash it we have to pull it out of debt trap otherwise it will be sold at soil prices,” he added.
The Union Cabinet yesterday gave an in-principle approval for disinvestment of the Air India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while addressing a press conference, said that on the request of the Civil Aviation Ministry a group under his vigil will be constituted to decide on the modalities of the matter. “There was a proposal of civil aviation ministry of disinvestment of Air India, this has been given theoretical approval or an in-principal approval,” said Jaitley.
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“In its proposal the civil aviation ministry had urged to constitute a group under the finance minister which can decide on the concerning modalities of the same, the cabinet has accepted that. How much of it will be disinvested? Or the issues related to its debts, hotels will be later on decided by the constituted group,” he added. The step comes in the view of Ministry of civil aviation plying ways to revive Air India, which is surviving on Rs. 30,000 crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA regime.
Air India constitutes of the largest fleet of 140 planes in India. According to reports, the cabinet chose between two options suggested in a 30-page note prepared by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) after discussions in a Committee of Secretaries, headed by the cabinet secretary.