The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country can delay government's disinvestment plan for national carrier Air India, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey said on Wednesday.
The government is selling its entire 100 per cent stake in Air India, which has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007. The successful bidder would also get 100 per cent stake in low-cost arm Air India Express and 50 per cent in AISATS, which provides cargo and ground handling services at major Indian airports.
The due diligence process is currently on and "there could be a little bit of slippage in terms of time", Mint quoted Pandey as saying. The government was targeting to complete disinvestment of the airline by September this year.
"There is also the element of physical inspection that may be involved, in terms of assets. Some international facilitatory movement in terms of travel may also be needed. While the process (due diligence) is on, there could be other technical inspection processes which would have to be organised within this current scenario. So, it is a very dynamic scenario," the publication quoted Pandey as saying.
As per media reports, Tata Group and SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh are the bidders who have been shortlisted for Air India's divestment.
Pandey said only the bidders who have qualified will move forward for the rest of the transaction. The government plans to complete the airline's disinvestment in fiscal year 2021-22. However, if the ongoing COVID-19 wave continues for a long time, it can cause hurdles in government's path, Pandey said.