The employee group that bid for Air India

The employee group that bid for Air India

In January this year, the government invited bids for selling 100% of its holding in Air India

Representative Image. Credit: Reuters File Photo

As Air India employees prepare to bid for the airline, Commercial Director Meenakshi Mallik has emerged as the face leading the group of employees. However, the bid may face hurdles as Air India pilots have been advised not to participate in the airline's disinvestment process.

According to a report by Mint, Mallik, who has been with the airline for the past 31 years, has planned the acquisition with "a private equity fund that will finance the bid while letting employees retain control of the airline."

A group representing as many as 209 Air India employees have put in a bid for the national carrier, according to news agency PTI.

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“Due to the support we will receive from the financial partner, while I anticipate that each of us will have to make a contribution of no more than ₹1,00,000 ( ₹1 lakh), to bid for the company, this is a detail which I will be better placed to convey to you all once we have passed the initial stage of the EoI," Mallik wrote in a letter to the group of employees.

“Only a small number of employees came out to place a bid as probably it didn’t make sense for the others to join the consortium," a senior official told the publication adding that the carrier has close to 10,000 permanent employees. The report states that a "consortium that enjoys the support of the employees is likelier to be able to effectively take control and successfully helm the flag carrier."

In January this year, the government invited bids for selling 100 per cent of its holding in Air India and its international budget arm Air India Express Ltd and 50 per cent in ground handling joint venture Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

As per the Air India EoI floated by DIPAM in January, of the airline's total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.5 crore, while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle.

On December 10, the government said that the interested entities are required to submit the physical bids within 15 days from December 14.

The Centre said it will intimate qualified interested bidders (QIBs) of Air India on January 5 next year, instead of the earlier decided date of December 29, 2020.

The last date for submission of bid expired on December 14.

(With agency inputs)