Future course for Air India disinvestment to be decided by GoM, says Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu

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New Delhi | Published: June 7, 2018 9:24:34 PM

The future course of action for Air India disinvestment process will be decided by the group of ministers as no initial bids were received for the proposed stake sale of the debt-laden national carrier, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

 Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, Suresh Prabhu, civil aviation sector, civil aviation industryCivil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. (Express photo)

The future course of action for Air India disinvestment process will be decided by the group of ministers as no initial bids were received for the proposed stake sale of the debt-laden national carrier, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said today.

He said that all alternatives will be discussed by the Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM), headed by Union Minister Arun Jaitley.

“The future course of action will be decided by the group of ministers,” Prabhu told PTI.

On whether the government would dilute the bidding norms to attract players, he said that the decision will be taken by that group of ministers only.

“There are several alternatives before Air India. All alternatives will be discussed by the group and (they will) decide the best possible alternative in the given situation,” he said.

The deadline for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) ended on May 31, with not a single bidder evincing interest in the airline.

In nearly two decades, this is the second time that Air India stake sale has not taken off. Back in 2001, during the then NDA government, the disinvestment process was scrapped.

The government has 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 will involve Air India, its low cost arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS Ltd.

Under the proposed disinvestment process, around Rs 33,000 crore debt would have remained with Air India. The national carrier’s debt burden was about Rs 50,000 crore at the end of March 2017.

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