Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said the government would aim for 100% privatisation of national carrier Air India, which has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore. He added that the Centre was open to the idea of 100% foreign direct investment in the aviation sector, reported Times Now.

“The government’s determination to privatise AI is a given, it’s undiluted,” he said at a press conference in New Delhi. “It should be a total privatisation. We have to get the best possible deal in the shortest time possible.”

Puri claimed that “people are interested in acquiring Air India”. “Whoever acquires Air India will be very fortunate and will be able to run it according to strong private sector principles,” ANI quoted him as saying.

A group of ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to meet “in the next few days” to look into a proposal prepared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and reviewed by the Committee of Secretaries, The Hindu quoted Puri as saying.

In March 2018, the government had planned to divest 76% stake in Air India, ignoring a parliamentary panel’s recommendation to give the debt-ridden airline five years to revive itself. The proposed stake sale, however, failed to take off as the government did not receive any expressions of interest from potential bidders by the end of the deadline.

In June, Puri said continued support from the government had improved the financial and operational performances of the national carrier. He added that the Centre would go ahead with the process of disinvestment of Air India.

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