State-run carrier Air India will clear employee dues with arrears before it closes the stake sale deal with the successful bidder, Hardeep Singh Puri said.
State-run carrier Air India will clear employee dues with arrears before it closes the stake sale deal with the successful bidder, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday. The airline, which is currently reeling under a debt of Rs 80,000 crore, employs about 17,984 people and the airline has been withholding salaries of these employees for months now amid severe cash crunch. The government, which has been desperately trying to offload its stake in the loss-making airline, is also looking to make Air India more lucrative for the prospective buyer. To that extent, it has decided that about one-fourth of Air India’s total dues will be left in the airline’s books and the rest will not be absorbed by the buyer.
Harping on the need of a private player to save Air India, minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that the government has limited financial resources and private sector can bring in the required capital to save the airline. He also stressed on Air India and Air Express being great assets which have worldwide international rights. Air India has 51% share of international traffic among domestic airlines, he said, adding that Air India and Air India Express together saw revenue of Rs 30,632 crore in 2018-19.
Meanwhile, with the government taking Air India’s divestment process a step further, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy lashed out at the government and he said that the deal is anti-national. “This deal is wholly anti-national and I will forced to go to court. We cannot sell our family silver,” he tweeted on Monday. He also urged the government to strengthen the airline instead of selling it to a private player. Meanwhile, the government announced the deadline of inviting Expression of Interest in the airline as 17 March 2020 and also said that it will divest 100% of its stake from the airline.