India’s government has yet again prolonged the bid timeline for Air India, making it a fourth consecutive extension. The announcement comes as a surprise after the country’s official denied a deadline extension earlier in August 2020.
On August 25, 2020, India’s Department of Investment and Public Asset Management released the eighth corrigendum regarding the country’s disinvestment in Air India. Any private sector entity can now bid for ownership of the flag carrier until October 30, 2020, according to the statement.
The announcement follows the Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri’s stance expressed on August 1, 2020. At the time, Puri claimed that he would not extend the bid timeline again because “there is a fair amount of interest” already.
Nevertheless, the eighth corrigendum released on August 25, 2020, follows three previous bid extensions for Air India. March 17, 2020, was the original date set for closing Expression of Interest (EOI), which was then prolonged to April 30, June 30, August 31, and now to October 30.
The document also highlights November 20, 2020, as a new date when the Indian Government would notify the bidders of Air India’s ownership.
The EOI invitation for Air India was first released on January 27, 2020. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management said it prolonged the deadlines due to potential bidders’ requests regarding the uncertainty of COVID-19.
Tata Sons, a holding company of Tata Group, has publicly expressed interest in acquiring Air India as an asset. The company allegedly planned to merge the national carrier with AirAsia India, Tata’s spokesperson said on August 17.