Govt kicks off process to sell 76% stake in Air India

30 March, 2018, 00:24 | Author: Nina Hammond
  • Bomb threat forces Air India's Delhi Kolkata flight to make emergency landing

AASL is the regional arm of Air India and flies to Tier II and III cities. Rather, this is a sensible ploy to capture some of the upside for the hapless taxpayers who sustained the mismanaged behemoth through expensive follies-like a 2007 merger with Indian Airlines Ltd., the state-owned domestic operator.

The 24% stake that the government retains is their attempt to be prepared to cash in on any future improvement in the fortunes of Air India.

Modi's cabinet gave the go-ahead previous year to sell the loss-making flagship airline after successive governments spent billions of dollars to keep it solvent.

Air India began using the new route on March 22, reducing flight times between the two cities by more than two hours. According to the PIM, Air India has 16,834 employees as on December 1, 2017 of which 11,214 are permanent employees.

Among the permanent staff, as many as 4,217 are set to retire in the next five years, it added. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS Ltd.

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The airline is under a massive debt burden of around Rs 50,000 crore (around $8 billion).

Companies including low-priced Indian carrier IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, Tata Group and Turkey's Celebi Aviation Holdings, have expressed an interest in buying some of Air India's operations. However the PIM has some very stringent conditions to sift out the interested parties.

".it is expected that debt and liabilities including net current liabilities of Rs 8,816 crore aggregating to Rs 33,392 crore will remain with Air India and Air India Express (no change for AI-SATS except in normal course of business)", said the government document calling for expressions of interest (EoI).

"It is the intention of Government of India to divest its residual shareholding through the process of dispersed disinvestment (ie would not be sold as a block) on such terms as may be prescribed in the Request for Proposal (RFP)", the memorandum said.

The airlines bidding as part of a consortium will also be restricted to owning 51% in the partnership. So far, only IndiGo has publicly expressed a desire to acquire Air India.

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