Profitable AI will provide disinvestment options: Goyal

Profitable AI will provide disinvestment options: Goyal

Minister Piyush Goyal. (PIB Photo via PTI)

The government will try on its own to make Air India profitable so that the airline will become more attractive for disinvestment, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said today.

More than a month after the proposed strategic disinvestment of Air India failed to take off, he said the alternative mechanism of ministers would be meeting soon to decide the future course of action for the national carrier. "... we will try to make Air India a profit making company on our own. Then, we will have more options of disinvestment.

It will become more attractive for disinvestment," Goyal told reporters here. According to him, the alternative mechanism would also look at the plan of action being prepared by the Air India CMD. Earlier in the day, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI that the government has decided to "wait and watch" for the next three-four months before taking a call on Air India disinvestment due to prevalent market conditions, especially high fuel prices. Goyal and Gadkari are among the ministers who are part of the alternative mechanism that was constituted for Air India disinvestment.

Under the proposal, the government was to sell 76 per cent stake in the national carrier along with complete divestment of low-cost arm Air India Express and a 50 per cent stake in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd -- an equal joint venture with Singapore-based SATS.

However, the proposal failed to attract any bidders when the deadline ended on May 31. Last month, the Civil Aviation Ministry had said the government was committed to strategic disinvestment of Air India.

At the end of March 2017, the carrier had a debt burden of around Rs 48,877 crore. Of the total amount, Rs 17,360 crore was related to aircraft and Rs 31,517 crore pertained to working capital loans.

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