Mumbai: India’s largest domestic airline IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, on Thursday said that it will not bid to acquire divestment-bound Air India’s entire airline business as its interest only lay in the national carrier’s international operations and subsidiary Air India Express.

From Day 1, IndiGo has expressed interest in the acquisition of Air India’s international operations and Air India Express, IndiGo’s president and whole-time director, Aditya Ghosh, said in response to queries from investors, according to a statement released by the airline.

“However, that option is not available under the government’s current divestiture plans for Air India," Ghosh said, adding, “also, as we have communicated before, we do not believe that we have the capability to take on the task of acquiring and successfully turning around all of Air India’s airline operations".

IndiGo’s decision not to bid for Air India comes at a time when the government is looking to divest its stake in the airline and transfer ownership to private hands.

The government had on 28 March invited expressions of interest (EoI) from parties interested in acquiring a controlling stake in Air India.

The government will sell 76% stake in the carrier along with 100% stake in low-cost international airline Air India Express Ltd and 50% in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture company. However, it will sell Air India, Air India Express and Air India SATS together and not as separate entities, according to the EoI document. The last date for submission of EoIs is 14 May.

The government hopes to announce the winning bid by 28 May.

In the last few months, IndiGo and Tata Sons Ltd have shown interest in acquiring a controlling stake in Air India. News reports have also named Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Qatar Airways Ltd and the Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara as potential suitors for Air India’s airline business.

That apart, Turkey’s Celebi Aviation Holding, Bird Group, Menzies Aviation Plc. and Livewel Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd have shown interest in acquiring Air India’s subsidiaries.

On Thursday, IndiGo shares rose 4.33%, or Rs60.15, to Rs1,448.65 on BSE while the benchmark Sensex surged 1.75%, 577.73 points, to end the day at 33,596.80 points.

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