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As Air India finds no buyers yet, will May 31st deadline be extended Here’s aviation secretary’s take


MAY 30, 2018

Air India stake sale: Even as the May 31 deadline for submission of expression of Interest (EoI) for Air India stake sale is almost here and the debt laden carrier hasn’t received any bids so far, civil aviation secretary RN Choubey reportedly said that there is no scope for extension of deadline. Television news reports quoted RN Choubey as saying while the government has not received any bids for Air India so far, it expects the bids to come in at the last hour just before bids closes on May 31. Earlier this month, RN Choubey had said at an event that there is a great deal of interest for the state-run carrier.

Interestingly, most of the domestic airlines have ruled themselves out of the race for picking up a stake in Air India, with analysts attributing onerous terms such as retention of employees and heavy debt as being prime reasons. Aditya Ghosh of IndiGo said in a recent statement that IndiGo may not have the capability to take on the task of acquiring and successfully turning around all of Air India’s airline operations.

Notably, a recent PTI report  had quoted Jet Airways deputy chief executive officer Amit Agarwal saying that Jet Airways will not be participating in the bidding process, considering the terms of offer in the information memorandum and based on its review.

However, later, Bloomberg reported that Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal has Air India on radar. “We are looking at our own business. But I am not saying that we will not look at Air India, I’ve never said that. Ultimately we will always see what is the best approach ahead of us, and for the country,” Bloomberg reported Naresh Goyal as saying.

The government plans to sell up to 74% stake in the carrier, and the divestment would include profit-making Air India Express and joint venture AISATS, an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS. Providing more time, the last date for submission of Expressions of Interest (EoIs) for Air India disinvestment was extended to May 31 from the earlier deadline of May 14. Notably, the qualified bidders would now be known on June 15, whereas the earlier date was May 29.