The government on Wednesday started the process of financial bids for debt-ridden national carrier Air India (AI) as Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia clarified that September 15 is the deadline for the process and there will be no changes.
After failing to find any buyers for a 76 per cent stake in Air India in 2018, the government is expected to complete the sale of the national carrier with at least two buyers expected to submit financial bids by September 15 .
“The Tata Group, through its holding company and SpiceJet’s chairman Ajay Singh, is likely to make its financial bid for the airline,” an industry source told ANI. A government source on the condition of anonymity said, “We are very optimistic that this time Air India will find a new bidder.
Air India has a huge debt of about Rs 43,000 crore, of which Rs 22,000 crore will also be transferred to Air India Asset Holding Limited (AIAHL).
“The airline’s debt has now risen to Rs 43,000 crore and all these loans are under government guarantee. And the government will bear this debt before transferring the airline to the new owners,” sources said. The government declined to share any details on expectations from the sale of Air India.
The Center is planning to sell 100 per cent stake in the airline and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express. and 50 per cent stake in ground handling company Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited (AISATS). Other properties including Air India building in Mumbai, Airlines House in Delhi will also be part of the deal.
Four acres of land at Connaught Place in Delhi and various housing societies for AI employees and other uses in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. Air India’s subsidiaries such as Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) and Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AITSL) will also be part of AIAHL.
At present, Air India controls 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports as well as 900 slots abroad.