A group of 209 Air India employees are preparing to bid for Air India and have submitted an expression of interest (EoI) for the national carrier in partnership with a private equity fund.
The bid process is overseen by the current commercial director of Air India, Meenakshi Malik.
"We have submitted an EoI along with a partner who will give us financial backing," Malik told Business Standard, refusing to reveal any other confidential details.
In January this year, the Centre had allowed bidders by releasing the EoI, in an attempt to sell 100 percent of the carrier's shares. Having said that, there are disinvestment guidelines that do not allow the company to partner with any other private company; only banks and financial institutions can be made partners.
In addition to the backing by the private financier, the employees willing to engage would have to shell out Rs 1 lakh each towards the bid. Post this, the employees are to hold a 51 percent stake in the airline, while the financial partners will acquire the remaining 49 percent.
"Due to the support we will receive from our financial partner, I anticipate that each of us will have to make a contribution of no more Rs 1,00,000, to bid for the company, this is a detail which I will be better placed to convey to you all once we have passed the initial stage of the EoI. Moreover, after successfully completing stage one, we are planning our bid in such a way that no single employee will have to take on a financial risk or contribute more than Rs 1,00,000," Malik had earlier communicated to Air India employees in writing, urging them to bid.
Unions such as the Indian Pilots Guild and the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, along with a large section of other Air India employees including the cabin crew however, have advised people not to participate in the bid. According to them, the Air India management has still not catered to their concerns regarding the disproportionate pay cuts that were put into effect in April this year.