Birmingham: Union minister for civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri has said that the privatisation process for Air India is in full swing and he expected it to be completed in the coming months.
The minister said the national carrier's sale was in the interest of the wider Indian aviation sector in order to be able to carry on growing at pace.
"I expect that the privatisation process of Air India, the flag carrier, which is now full swing, to be completed in the coming months," Puri said, on the sidelines of his visit to the University of Birmingham to deliver an India Institute Annual Lecture on the Teachings of Guru Nanak on Friday.
In reference to a 100 per cent stake on offer in the airline this time around, the minister said lessons had been learnt from the previous failed attempt to sell the Indian flag carrier to ensure a smoother process this time.
"It is in the interest of the Indian aviation sector. Governments should not be in the business of running airlines," he said.
The minister said that he strongly believes that the civil aviation sector will be a critical driver of economic growth in India in the coming decade, with foreign investors joining in the boom.
He said: "Civil aviation is a critical growth area for India. I expect in the years to come a lot of foreign players will be showing interest.
"I am hoping and confident that this will happen, that today we are the third-largest domestic civil aviation market but we will be the third-largest overall. The rate at which we are proceeding, our share of global traffic can only increase." Puri, who is also the minister for urban affairs and housing and a minister of state in the ministry of commerce and industry, expressed confidence in the country's economic growth figures as well as other targets set in sectors such as housing.
"Today India's GDP is USD 2.89 trillion and we are slowly but surely on a journey to become a USD 5-trillion economy by 2024 and USD 10-trillion economy by 2030," he said.
"All the flagship programmes are doing extremely well. The Swachh Bharat mission is a roaring success and the 1-crore homes target under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, which was to be completed by 2022, we are going to have it completed well before deadline," he said.