The Centre on Tuesday extended the deadline for placing bids for state-run carrier Air India by two more months, citing the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The new deadline is October 30.

On January 27, the Narendra Modi government had announced that it wanted to sell its entire stake in Air India. This was a major shift from the government’s stance in 2018 when it wanted to divest only 76% stake in the national carrier. The proposed stake sale, however, had failed to take off then. This change will give complete operational freedom to the new owner.

This is the fourth extension given by the government for putting in bids since January, PTI reported. A document released in January set March 17 as the deadline for submission of initial expressions of interest, which was later extended to April 30. This was further extended till June 30, and once again till August 31.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management said the deadline has been extended due to requests from the interested bidders “in view of the prevailing situation arising out of Covid-19”.

The date for intimation to qualified interested bidders has also been extended by over two months till November 20, the government said.

Credit: Department of Investment and Public Asset Management