For Air India there are no takers on deadline eve; govt hopes against hope
No bids have been received so far for Air India stake, the Government said on Wednesday even as it hoped of getting a good response on the last day of the formal bidding process on Thursday.
“We expect good response before bid closes tomorrow,” Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey told PTI responding to a query.
Earlier in the day, he said no bids have been received for the stake sale so far. The deadline for the expression of interest ends on Thursday and the request for proposal could be issued only after June 15.
On May 23, Choubey had said the highest bidder for the airline would be known by August-end. But, the highest bidder might not be the successful bidder, he said, adding the Government intends to complete the disinvestment by year-end.
Significantly, he had said the Government could decide against selling State-run Air India if it does not get “adequate” price for it.
“The Government has the right to sell or not to sell Air India if the bid price is found to be inadequate,” Choubey had told reporters.
“Though the transaction adviser (EY) will assess the enterprise value, the right price for the airline will be decided by us,” he said.
Asked about AI employees’ union protests against the proposed sale, he said they were conscious of the fact that airlines would do well after privatisation.
The Government had on March 28 unveiled plans to sell up to a 76 per cent stake in the loss-making carrier, and transfer the management control to private players.
The profitable Air India Express and the joint venture AISATS — an equal joint venture between the national carrier and the Singapore-based SATS Ltd —will also be a part of the disinvestment process.
The ailing airline’s total debt stood at Rs 48,781 crore at the end of March 2017.
-PTI | 31 May 2018 | New Delhi