Air India disinvestment: Fresh EoI in November

An Air India Airbus A320-200 aircraft takes off from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad. (Reuters photo)

After failing to attract buyers in the first attempt, the Union government will issue the second Expression of Interest (EoI) in November for divestment of its stake in national carrier Air India.

Highly placed sources said the EoI is being prepared by the Group of Ministers led by Home Minister Amit Shah and the document will be out by November, which would kick start the divestment process once again.

“Something will happen shortly. The process (of divestment) should start very soon with the release of EoI. Once the EoI is issued, we hope there will be buyers this time as we have made lot of changes that could attract other airlines in the yet-to-be released document,” a senior official in the know-how of the developments told DH.

The EoI which was supposed to have been released in October has now been pushed to November.

The Narendra Modi government in its first tenure had decided to divest its stake in the national carrier, which is running in loss for more than a decade and invited prospective buyers. The first attempt ended with no buyers evincing interest and the government appointed a GoM headed by Shah to take forward the process of selling Air India, the national carrier.

Apart from Shah, the GoM comprises of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. Air India has a total debt of Rs 58,351 crore as on March 31 this year and the national carrier is surviving on a bailout package given by the government.

In the fresh EoI, the government is likely to offer 100 per cent stake for the buyers as against a limited stake last time. “There are several things which are being worked out at the top level. One of them is offering 100 per cent stake for the buyers so that they don’t worry about any interference,” the official said.

The senior official said since the divestment process is on, the carrier’s expansion plans in terms of buying new aircraft have been put off. He also rubbished reports of mass resignation by pilots of the carrier saying only five of those who had put in their papers have left in the past month.

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