Air India’s privatisation likely to be completed by May-June: Hardeep Puri

The privatisation of the debt-laden national carrier, Air India, is expected to be completed by May-June, said Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday.

Multiple entities in February this year had expressed interest in bidding for the government's stake in the cash-strapped airline. According to a report by Mint, Tata Group and SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh have been shortlisted to bid for Air India.

"At a meeting on Monday, it was decided that the government will close the financial bids within 64 days," Puri told ANI, adding that there were multiple bidders and some have been shortlisted.

Other Public sector undertakings (PSUs) like Pawan Hans disinvestment is also under process, the minister added.

"The airline still is in debt of Rs 60,000 crore and it is liable to be sold," Puri further said.

The minister also said that the second wave of COVID-19 has delayed airlines being allowed to operate 100 per cent that was planned to happen from the start of the summer schedule this month-end. But for now, there are no questions to curtail the domestic operations, he added.

He further said that flights are the safest mode to travel, adding that the authorities have taken cognisance for defaulters who are not following COVID-19 protocol on board.

In 2018, the government had floated the Expression of Interest (EoI) for Air India to offload a 76 per cent stake and management control in the airline but it did not get a single bidder. The government currently owns 100 per cent equity of Air India. Currently, Air India has a fleet of 121 aircraft, out of which 65 are owned, while its subsidiary Air India Express has 25 Boeing 737, of which 10 are owned. (With inputs from agencies)

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