This Article is From Jan 27, 2020

For 100% Sale Of Air India, March 17 Deadline For Bids: 10 Points

Government plans to sell entire stake in Air India, in a revised push to sell the carrier after an initial attempt to sell a majority stake failed.

Air India: The carrier has some of India's most lucrative landing and parking slots

In a revised push to sell the national carrier, the government on Monday announced plans to sell its entire stake in Air India. The development comes after an initial attempt to sell a majority stake in the airline failed to draw a single bid in 2018. The airline is sitting on a debt pile of around Rs 58,000 crore, besides huge accumulated losses running into thousands of crores. Currently, the Government of India holds a 100 per cent stake in the airline, and its subsidiary Air India Express.

Here are 10 things to know about Air India Sale

  1. In a document inviting expressions of interest, the government said it would sell a 100 per cent stake in the carrier, which operates both domestic and international routes. 

  2. The government has set March 17 as a deadline for potential buyers to submit their initial expressions of interest. Any bidder would have to agree to assume roughly $3.26 billion in debt, along with other liabilities, according to the document.

  3. While several of Air India's subsidiaries will be excluded from the sale, the buyer will get 100% of low-cost arm Air India Express and 50% of AISATS, which provides cargo and ground handling services at major Indian airports, the bid document showed.

  4. The government said that as part of the sale, the control of the carrier will remain with an Indian entity, limiting the scope of any foreign bidders interested in the asset. A successful bidder would win control of the airline's 4,400 domestic landing and parking slots and 1,800 international slots at Indian airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.

  5. The Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday that the successful bidder would continue to use Air India brand. He also added that Air India along with Air India Express is a "great asset."  CAPA aviation consultancy India head Kapil Kaul said the latest offer should garner significant response partly because it involves a clean exit by the government.

  6. In 2018, the government had tried to sell a 76 per cent stake in the ailing carrier and offload about $5.1 billion of its debt, terms that potential buyers at the time viewed as too onerous.

  7. In the past decade, Air India's accumulated losses stood at about Rs 69,575.64 crore, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Parliament in December. With Air India reeling under around Rs 80,000 crore worth of debt, the government has said there is no option left with it but to privatise the carrier.

  8. The government needs cooperation of Air India employees for carrying out the privatisation process, Mr Puri is said to have told the airline unions on January 2.

  9. In an exclusive interview to NDTV last week, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said that prospective buyers of the state-run carrier will "get an airline with a massive reach".

  10. Air India, known for its Maharaja mascot, has some of India's most lucrative international and domestic landing and parking slots that are key for airlines.

(With inputs from Reuters)