Air India sale: Govt looks at major debt recast to attract buyers; Amit Shah-led GoM to meet today

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Published: January 7, 2020 12:19:10 PM

To make the airline more attractive to buyers, there will be a significant recast of debt and about 80% of the airline’s debt will be moved to a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

Air India, Air India privatisation,  Aviation ministerWith a whopping Rs 80,000 crore debt, the airline is struggling to stay afloat and will shut down in next six months if a buyer does not emerge, a senior official had said recently.

As state-run national carrier Air India’s losses mount, a Group Of Ministers (GoM) led by Home Minister Amit Shah is said to meet today to discuss Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) on the airline’s divestment process. The government is also expected to provide share purchase with Expression of Interest to prospective buyers, ET Now reported. To make the airline more attractive to buyers, there will be a significant recast of debt and about 80% of the airline’s debt will be moved to a special purpose vehicle (SPV). Of Air India’s total Rs 80,000 crore worth debt, only Rs 10,000-15,000 crore debt will be kept in Air India’s books, the news channel reported citing sources.

With a whopping Rs 80,000 crore debt, the airline is struggling to stay afloat and will shut down in next six months if a buyer does not emerge, a senior official had said recently, according to a PTI report. The government is now willing to sell 100% stake in the airline, Hardeep Singh Puri, Civil Aviation Minister had said in December last year. “AISAM has approved the 100% sale of the Government of India stake in Air India for the re-initiated strategic disinvestment of Air India,” he said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

The government has been trying to sell off Air India for a while now as the airline continues to remain a loss making enterprise. The equity infusion in the state-run carrier has soared to over Rs 30,000 crore from FY12 to date. The airline has received financial support under Turnaround Plan (TAP) and Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP). It has also received cash support from the government. Even then, Air India’s provisionally estimated losses have mounted to over Rs 8,556 crore in FY19 alone. Yet, Air India got an equity infusion of Rs 30,520 crore from FY12 to date, MoS Hardeep Singh Puri said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session.

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