Govt attempts to sell Air India again

- A Monitor Report01 Feb, 2020 | 727 Views|-+
New Delhi : The government has launched another bid to privatise Air India, the country's struggling national airline, after failing to find a buyer for the debt-laden carrier in a botched attempt two years ago.

Prime minister Narendra Modi's government on January 27 invited bids from potential investors in Air India and two of its subsidiaries, offering sweetened terms compared with the attempt at a sale in 2018 that failed to attract bidders.

A memorandum said that the Indian government would sell 100 per cent of the carrier, which operates domestic and international flights, along with its stake in low-cost unit Air India Express and airport services company AISATS.

It gave March 17 as a deadline for submissions. During the last sale attempt, New Delhi sought to retain 24 per cent of the carrier.

The latest sale process also stipulated that any buyer would have to take on about USD 3.3 bn in debt, down from about USD 5.1 bn in 2018.

Air India's total debts stand at about USD 8 bn, according to Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister for Civil Aviation of India.

While the government is seeking to sell the entire airline, the bidding rules state that control must stay within India. A foreign airline may only purchase 49 per cent of a local carrier, a rule analysts cite as a significant barrier to investment.

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