New Delhi: India will offer its debt-ridden national carrier for sale in a matter of weeks, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said here, expressing optimism that investors will show interest.
Puri said that the national carrier, which makes about ₹26 crore loss a day, has robust service network in domestic and international market and has a good brand name and that the government was serious in the effort to privatise the airline. He however, declined to comment on questions related to investor interest in the debt-ridden company at a time investor sentiment is low and risk aversion is high during an economic slowdown.
“Air India is a national asset. It has been the flagship company, flag carrier in terms of our civil aviation. The Maharaja is a great brand, owns 120 aircraft, half of which are owned and the rest are leased. It flies to 40-50 international destinations… We will be seeking the expression of interest (EoI) in the coming few weeks and hopefully, sooner than later, the process of privatisation will set in,” said Puri.
Puri said that Air India is not going to be shut down. The airline, he said was facing stress like some of the companies in the other sectors like real estate. He, however, declined to comment on government’s expectations about how much the proposed sale may fetch. “AI is a service provider running a large number of domestic routes. It has international routes. We want an Indian entity to acquire it for strategic objectives. Whether the government will make money–the government does not want to give it on a sizzling platter,” said Puri.