Thursday, July 06, 2017

Air India may not be debt-free before sale

New Delhi: The Centre may not takeover all of Air India’s ₹52,000 crore debt as part of the airline’s strategic disinvestment process and private players eyeing the national carrier are likely to be saddled with some of its outstanding loans, according to a top official at the civil aviation ministry.

“A portion of the working capital loan will be transferred to the private player which is essential in running the airline’s daily operations,” the civil aviation ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, said.

This assumes significance in light of the unsolicited expression of interest from India’s largest low-cost airline IndiGo for taking over Air India. While Indigo has appeared keen to acquire a stake in Air India, the airline has said it would not be prepared to bear the state-owned carrier’s unsustainable liabilities.

Air India has total debt of about ₹52,000 crore, comprising of ₹22,000 crore as aircraft loans and the rest as working capital loans and other liabilities. Air India has financed working capital through borrowings from a consortium of 25 banks.

“The new owner will take the airline’s reasonable working capital of around ₹4,000-₹5,000 crore,” another official said on condition of anonymity.
06/07/17 Somesh Jha/The Hindu