After IndiGo, Jet Airways opts out of Air India bid


The ambitious strategic stake sale of loss-making Air India as well as its two subsidiaries seem to be hitting air pockets with the two potential bidders deciding to keep away citing the contours of the process.

With the government making it clear in the Expression of Interest released last week that it wanted to divest Air India in totality (Air India, Air India Express and ground handling), IndiGo had no option but to withdraw from the divestment process.

Serious corrections may be needed in the bid conditions of Air India after Jet Airways and IndiGo opted out of the divestment of the national airline, said a senior aviation analyst.

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In January, Leslie Thng, the chief executive of Vistara, a joint-venture between Tata and Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) told reporters its owners were open to evaluating a bid for Air India.

Air India ran losses for almost a decade after a botched merger in 2007 and has debts of around Dollars 7.67 billion according to government figures.

Speaking in detail about what he thinks on Air India privatisation, he said: "We still don't have all the details".

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On a question if ministry was open to the idea of selling Air India's domestic and worldwide operations separately, Chaubey said, "Currently, we are not looking at the option of splitting Air India's operations".

In addition to the 76 percent stake, the government is also selling all of Air India's low-priced arm - Air India Express, and 50 percent in the airline's baggage handling and airport services unit. Ltd, a joint venture firm.

The Air India logo is seen on the facade of its office building in Mumbai, India, July 7, 2017. "The balance debt shall be allocated to Air India Asset Holding Limited which is 100 per cent owned by the Government of India subject to receipt of requisite approvals from lenders and regulators, as applicable", the memorandum said. But it would also need to take on Air India's 27,000 employees, 40 percent of which are permanent staff. Within the contingent liabilities, income tax, customs duty, as well as service tax and guarantee fee/ penal charges due to the government would continue to remain with Air India.

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The government issued the PIM on March 28 and set April 16 as the last date for submission of written queries by interested parties. The national carrier is staying on taxpayers' money under the turnaround plan approved by the previous UPA government in 2012.