Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Air India privatisation: IndiGo, Etihad show interest in ailing national carrier; govt likely to come up with EoI next month

In a big relief for the ailing Maharaja-Air India, budget carrier IndiGo and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways reportedly have approached the government to acquire the debt-laden national carrier, according to news reports.
This development has come soon after a senior official of Air India expressed concern about the future of the struggling airline, which he said, might be shut down by June next year if it could not find out a buyer.
In the case of these two firms, IndiGo, India's largest airline by market share, can buy 100 percent in Air India while Etihad can acquire only 49 percent due to the current norms of the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy, said a report in The Economic Times.
The government is expected to come up with the expression of interest (EoI) documents by next month, said the report.
“Representatives from these companies (IndiGo and Etihad) have met government officials and, unofficially, shown interest in the national carrier. The Tata Group, however, has not shown any interest yet,” the report said quoting an official in the know of the matter.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri claimed that the bid to privatise the ailing Air India was going ahead well even as the government's efforts in the past to find a suitable buyer for the crisis-hit airline did not succeed, reported Mint.
“The only way forward is for Air India’s privatisation," Puri was quoted as saying in the report.
On Monday, a senior official of Air India had said that the airline might be forced to shut down by June next year unless it finds a buyer as 'piecemeal' arrangements cannot be sustained for long.
Amid continuing uncertainty over the fate of the national carrier, the official said there is also need for funds to restart operations of the airline's 12 grounded narrow-body planes.
Air India has a debt burden of around Rs 60,000 crore and the government is still working on the modalities of disinvestment.
31/12/19 First Post
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