Air India might be sold intact after all
India’s minister for aviation Jayant Sinha said on December 1, 2017 that the troubled state-owned carrier Air India is going to be sold intact, without separating its international and domestic operations, local media reports.
“What we will be offering through the bidding process is the integrated airline which means international and domestic both,” said Sinha, as quoted by to the local media.
The news contradicts previous reports from July 2017 that the Indian government might sell the carrier in parts, to make it more appealing to potential buyers, thus speeding up the sale process.
So far, several companies have been reported expressing an interest in obtaining the airline, but for most part-in units.
For instance, in June 2017, IndiGo, India's largest low-cost carrier, and 41% market-share holder expressed an official interest in buying the debt-ridden national flag carrier if it is profitable. In a letter to the civil aviation ministry, IndiGo openly expressed the interest in buying the national carrier in parts: the international operations and its profitable subsidiary – low-cost carrier Air India Express.
On November 14, India’s regional provider of gateway services and food solutions SATS has expressed interest in buying Air India's ground handling unit. Earlier, Indian business conglomerate Bird Group and Celebi Aviation Holding also have shown similar interest in buying out the Air India Air Transport Service.
After a $3.6 billion bailout could not fix the situation of the loss-making airline, in March 2017, the Indian government announced the decision to recover Air India within five years by selling a 51% share. The country's government is working on the plan of its strategic disinvestment in the carrier, as it is under a massive debt burden of $8 billion.
In November 2017 the Civil Aviation Secretary R. N. Choubey was quoted by the Economic Times saying that the government is committed to disinvestment in Air India and wants “to do it very, very fast”.
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