New Delhi: A ministerial panel considering the sale of national carrier Air India after a failed attempt last year will explore, starting Thursday, all ways of making the divestment of the airline a success.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the panel looking into the matter will hold a preliminary meeting in the capital on Thursday.
The previous offer for sale of the national carrier did not take off as investors were not very comfortable with the government retaining 24% stake in the airline as well as a requirement to stay invested in the company for three years. Also the over ₹33,000 crore of debt that Air India and Air India Express, which was also on offer, were to retain did not enthuse investors. The government is now taking a fresh look at the terms of sale including the level of debt that the Air India Asset Holding Company, a new entity formed to execute the sale, will hold.
Sale of the national carrier, which has been on a bailout package for years, will enable the government to exit from a lossmaking business. It will also avoid the conflict of interest arising from the government being a player in an industry which it regulates. Air India with its rigid bureaucratic decision making process is not able to survive in a highly competitive industry.