Mumbai: Indian government on Monday invited preliminary bids to sell its entire stake in Air India, and the airline’s subsidiary Air India Express along with its joint venture Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited.
The last date for submission of bids is 17 March, and qualified bidders will be notified 31 March, according to bid document issued by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.
The government owns 100% stake in Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express. AISATS is a joint venture partnership between Air India and Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS) Limited, which provides ground and cargo handling services.
The document stated that “The Government of India (GOI) has given ‘in-principle’ approval for the strategic disinvestment of AI (Air India) by way of the transfer of management control and sale of 100% equity share capital of AI held by GOI which will include AI’s shareholding interest of 100% in AIXL (Air India Express Limited) and 50% in AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited).”
However, bidders for Air India Ltd will need to absorb $3.26 billion of its debt. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration tries once again to sell the national carrier, after trying the same and failing to attract even one bidder in 2018.
Air India, which started in 1932 as a mail carrier before winning commercial popularity, saw its fortunes fade with the emergence of cutthroat low-cost competition. The state-run airline has been unprofitable for over a decade and is saddled with more than $8 billion in debt.