Investors' response on Air India sale reassuring: Puri

Air India sale: Investors' response reassuring, says Hardeep Singh Puri

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri addresses during the distribution of Letters of Appreciation issued by PM at AAI Officer's club, in New Delhi, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday said that the response to Air India sale offer has been “reassuring” and sought to allay apprehensions of the staff saying their “good work” would be factored in while finalising the successor agreement.

The assurance from the Minister came at a time when a section of the employees have voiced concerns over an uncertain future post the privatisation of the national air carrier.

On January 27, government had invited bids for 100% stake sale of Air India along with its 100% stake in Air India Express and 50% holding in AISATS, after 2018 attempt to sell 76% stake in the national air carrier had come cropper.

“The amount of interest I am seeing in the acquisition and the quarters from where I am seeing it, I am reassured,” Puri said at a ministry event here.

Puri, however, did not share details about the potential investors as the first stage of the bidding process was underway.

The Minister said that the disinvestment process will not face any problems this time and assured employees of the “strongest support” from the government in securing their future.

“We not only want to keep Air India flying as a brand but we want to ensure that continued operation will end the uncertainty of last many years,” Puri said.

Puri also pointed out to a certain “lock-in period” to be negotiated with the potential buyer about ensuring continuation of the operations of the airline for a specified period.

The Minister said the government is committed to ensure that the business environment remained beneficial for the growth of the civil aviation sector in the country.

He said besides the three natural aviation hubs – Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai – Hyderabad and Bengaluru too have the potential of emerging as key destinations for growth in the aviation sector.

He said that the staff will be required by the new entity for running Air India, as there has been no recruitment for many years and hence, there was no surplus staff.

“I don't think anyone can run an airline without the people that actually make it,” Puri said adding that he would be having another round of discussions with representatives of the employees' unions soon.

Various employee unions of Air India in the last few months have expressed uncertainty about their future as the government has moved ahead with the stake sale plan.

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