Air India employee unions today claimed “victory” as the government failed to attract bidders for the loss-making airline’s strategic disinvestment.
“No bids for Air India, victory for joint forum in our endeavour to save the airline,” a joint forum of various Air India unions said in a statement as the last date for submission of bids ended this evening.
The joint forum, which is a platform of various Air India unions, associations and guilds, has been opposing the move to privatise the national carrier on the grounds of massive ‘job losses’.
In a major setback to the Air India disinvestment process, the government said no initial bids were received for the proposed strategic stake sale of the airline by the deadline today, and that “further course of action will be decided appropriately”.
The government had proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players, as per the preliminary information memorandum.
The transaction would involve Air India, its low-cost arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS.
The forum comprises Air Corporations Employees Union, All India Service Engineers’ Associations, Air India Employees Union, Aviation Industry Employee Guild, Air India Aircraft Engineers’ Association, All India Aircraft Engineers’ Association, Air India Engineers Association, United Air India Officers Association, All India Cabin Crew Association and All India Airline Retired Personnel Association.
Under a turnaround plan approved by the previous UPA regime, Air India is to receive up to Rs 30,231 crore from the government, subject to meeting certain performance thresholds.
The 10-year bailout package began from 2012.
Earlier this month, the government had extended the expression of interest (EoI) submission deadline to May 31, from May 14 earlier. The qualified interested bidders were to be intimated on June 15.