Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday urged the Civil Aviation Ministry to keep an Air India subsidiary, the Air India Engineering Services Limited, out of the disinvestment process of the national carrier, reported the Business Standard. The AIESL, which was carved out of Air India as a separate business unit in 2013, looks after the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the aircraft.

“I want to urge the minister that the MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul], which is a subsidiary company, may be kept separately,” said Gadkari. “If, tomorrow, we take some decision related to Air India, then this company should not go to some private player and [should] remain a separate entity.”

The AIESL has been making losses since its inception. In 2016-17, its losses amounted to Rs 653 crore, according to provisional estimates.

When asked about Gadkari’s remarks, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said, “Discussions on Air India’s stake sale is an ongoing process, and his comments are welcome. I will not divulge my views on his comments in the press.”

The airline, which has more than Rs 50,000 crore in debts, is in the process of being privatised.