The government has not taken a final decision yet on how much stake in Air India it wants to sell, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said today. Last year, the Union Cabinet approved privatisation of the debt-ridden national carrier, which is staying afloat on taxpayers’ money. A group of ministers has been appointed to chalk out the strategy for Air India’s stake sale.
“There is no final decision that has taken place. There are lots of suggestions, there is lots of thinking.(Some suggest) why not have a share (in Air India) so that if market goes up you can recover (debt). I say you are welcome to suggest,” Raju said at a press interaction.
He was replying to a question on whether the government had decided on how much percentage it would like to disinvest in the Air India.
A senior official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation explained that while there is clarity in the government that “at least 51 per cent” of Air India will be sold to a private entity, how much stake exactly will be sold will be finalised only when the group of ministers approves the expression of interest document for the disinvestment of the national carrier.
Earlier this month, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had said that more than 51 per cent of ownership of Air India will be transferred to the private sector.
The junior minister had also said that the national carrier would be offered for bidding as four different entities.
Air India, its low-cost arm Air India Express and subsidiary AISATS would be one entity while regional arm Alliance Air would be a separate entity.
Besides, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL) and Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) would be sold separately.
In June 2017, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its in-principle nod to the strategic disinvestment of the airlineâ€”which has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore.