Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey today said the government could decide against selling state-run Air India if it does not get “adequate” price for it. “The government has the right to sale or not to sale Air India if the bid price is found to be inadequate,” Choubey told reporters here, even as he expressed confidence that ailing airline will fetch a good price. While the deadline for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) ends on May 31, the Secretary said the Request for Proposal could be issued after June 15.
He said the highest bidder for the airline would be known by the the end of August. But the highest bidder may not be the successful bidder, he said, adding the government intends to complete the disinvestment process by this year end. “Though the transaction advisor (Ernst & Young) will assess the enterprise value, the right price for the airline will be decided by us,” he said.
Asked about Air India employees union protests against the proposed sale, he said they are conscious of the fact that airlines the worldover have done well after privatisation.
Earlier, Choubey had said the disinvestment process in the national carrier has generated a great deal of interest.
The government had on March 28 kicked off the disinvestment process of the debt-laden national carrier with the issue of the preliminary information memorandum for the proposed sale of up to 76 per cent stake in it along with management control to private entities.
The government also made it clear that it would have the rights of a “minority shareholder” with 24 per cent stake in Air India post disinvestment.