Thursday, April 12, 2018

British Airways, Lufthansa, SIA among four foreign carriers interested in Air India

New Delhi: Four major international airlines — including British Airways, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines — are among those that have shown interest in Air India’s disinvestment + .
A Gulf carrier has also evinced initial interest, sources connected with the disinvestment process told TOI. One of the airlines already has a stake in an Indian carrier and marrying the Maharaja could mean divorcing its partner. Sources said the foreign carriers are in talks with Indian business houses to meet the criterion of “substantial ownership and control”.
A foreign airline can have a joint venture in India provided it has a local partner with at least 51% stake and effective control. Foreign carriers forming a consortium to make a bid for Air India will need to fulfil this rule.
“The four airlines are in active consultation with us. Among the Indian players they are in touch with to form a consortia is a medium-sized domestic airline. The head of an international airline is also eying the process with interest. A leading Indian industrial house is also in touch,” said a source, who did not wish to be identified.
The government has offered to sell 76% in the loss-making national carrier and will transfer a substantial chunk of its debt into a separate company.
When contacted, International Airlines Group (IAG) — parent company of British Airways — said: “IAG doesn’t comment on rumours or speculation.” SIA had also stated recently: “Our priority is the further expansion of Vistara (its JV with Tatas). However, we will keep our options open with respect to the proposed divestment of Air India.” Lufthansa did not comment till time of going to press.
12/04/18 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India