The Centre may allow foreign aviation companies to bid for a stake in Air India, Mint reported on Monday.

During a meeting, the Ministry of Civil Aviation told a panel of ministers overseeing Air India’s stake sale, that foreign airlines could bid for Air India as long as they have a local joint venture with an Indian airline. “Foreign airlines will be allowed to bid as per the current policy that is applicable on all domestic airlines,” Mint quoted an unidentified official as saying. Under current rules, foreign carriers can own as much as 49% stake in an Indian airline company other than Air India.

International Air Transport Association Director General and Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac backed the the government’s move and advised the Centre to sell its entire stake in Air India. “We support privatisation of Air India,” de Juniac told the Economic Times. “But the company has to be privatised in right conditions. For [the] sale process, the government can keep a part stake initially but the government should eventually exit Air India.”

De Juniac said the government could decide on the limits of the stake held by a foreign company in the airline but should allow foreign carriers to participate in the bidding process.