Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday that the privatisation process of Air India was “truly underway” and added that the government will take all decisions in a defined period of time. Puri made the remarks following the first Group of Ministers meeting on the Air India crisis, Mint reported.
The meeting, conducted at the office of the Home Ministry, was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Puri. The four ministers are part of the Group of Ministers constituted to oversee the sale of the national carrier.
“It was a very productive meeting,” Puri said. “We are going to take all the decisions that are to be taken in a defined period of time. The Air India divestment process is truly underway.”
The airline’s debt, which stood at Rs 55,000 crore at the end of March 2018, grew to Rs 58,351.93 crore at the end of March 2019. Air India Assets Holdings, a special purpose vehicle of Air India, will raise about Rs 29,000 crore through sale of bonds in September, to reduce the debt of the beleaguered airline.
Last month, Puri had said that the government was aiming for 100% privatisation of Air India. Puri claimed that “people are interested in acquiring Air India”.
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.
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