Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said Air India will be completely disinvested and that prospective buyers have been given 64 days for bids, NDTV reported. Puri said the choice was now only between disinvestment process or to close down the airline.
“We’ve decided that Air India will be 100 per cent disinvested,” Puri said. “The choice isn’t between disinvestment and non-disinvestment. It’s between disinvestment and closing down. Air India is a first-rate asset but has an accumulated debt of Rs 60,000 crore. We need to draw the slate clean.”
The minister said the debt-ridden national carrier “must find a new home”.
According to The Economic Times, SpiceJet chairperson Ajay Singh has partnered with Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority and Ankur Bhatia, promoter of Delhi-based Bird Group, to bid for a 100% stake in the airline. Both Singh and Bhatia have reportedly expressed interest in their personal capacity.
The government has said that it has received multiple expressions of interest after it put the airline under sale in January 2020.
“In the last meeting, on Monday, it was decided that the shortlisted bidders be informed that the bids have to come in within 64 days,” Puri said. “This time the government is determined and there is no hesitation.”
The government’s move to sell 100% stake in the national carrier is a shift from its stance in 2018, when it wanted to divest only 76% of its shares in Air India. The proposed stake sale, however, had failed to take off then.