A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday approved the Expression of Interest (EoI) as well as the share purchase agreement for Air India’s privatisation, a senior government official said.
The EoI and the share purchase agreement would be issued in January itself for the bidders, he said.
The last GoM meeting took place in September 2019.
Last year, the Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) approved the re-initiation of the process for the government’s 100 per cent stake sale in Air India along with Air India Express and the carrier’s stake in joint venture AISATS.
While Air India’s net loss in 2018-19 was around Rs 8,556 crore, its current total debt is around Rs 80,000 crore.
A Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) as well as a debt restructuring plan for the airline was also approved by the AISAM, the official said, refusing to divulge any details about the same.
On Saturday, Air India chief Ashwani Lohani had said “rumours” of the disinvestment-bound airline’s shutdown are “all baseless”, weeks after he told the Civil Aviation Ministry that the carrier’s financial situation was “grossly untenable” for sustaining operations.
“Rumours regarding Air India shutting down or closing operations are all baseless. Air India would continue to fly and also expand and there should be no cause for concern whatsoever to travellers, corporates or agents. Air India the national carrier is still the biggest airline of India,” the Air India Chairman and Managing Director had tweeted.
In a letter to the ministry last month, Lohani had said, “It also needs appreciation that the overall financial situation is grossly untenable and the airline may not be able to sustain physical operations in the absence of immediate government intervention and support that we have been repeatedly requesting for in the recent past.”