Air India along with Air India Express ‘great asset’: Hardeep Singh Puri

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Published: January 27, 2020 10:20:02 PM

The government on Monday announced sale of 100 per cent stake in debt-laden Air India.

Hardeep Singh Puri, aviation sectorHardeep Singh Puri (File photo: PTI)

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday said Air India along with Air India Express is a “great asset”, as the government came out with preliminary bid document for disinvestment of the national carrier.
The minister said the successful bidder would continue to use Air India brand.

The government on Monday announced sale of 100 per cent stake in debt-laden Air India as it issued the preliminary bid document for the strategic disinvestment and has set March 17 as the deadline for submitting expression of interest.

As part of the strategic disinvestment, Air India would also sell 100 per cent stake in low-cost airline Air India Express and 50 per cent shareholding in joint venture AISATS, as per bid document issued on Monday.

Management control of the airline would also be transferred to the successful bidder.

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation further said the lessons have been learnt from 2018 with regard to Air India stake sale.

In 2018, the government proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players. However, there were no bidders.

The minister said the latest bidding approach is “qualitatively different from 2018”.

“In 2018, many things were happening. There was an external environment which was not entirely conducive… Something as large as normally this is not attempted when you are running into general elections. People tend to be very cautious… this time it is absolutely clear, there is clarity in our approach,” he noted.

In 2018-19, Air India and Air India Express carried around 26.2 million passengers. They have around 51 per cent share of the international traffic to and from India among domestic carrier.

The two carriers had a combined revenue of Rs 30,632 crore in 2018-19 while their employee cost was 11 per cent of that amount during that period.

Among others, the minister said that a provision for Rs 207.63 crore towards wage arrears accruable to employees working on narrow body fleet has been made in the books of account of Air India. The treatment of this liability may be provided at Request for Proposal (RFP) stage, he added.

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