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Choice 'between disinvestment and closing down': Hardeep Singh Puri on Air India sale

We've decided that Air India will be 100 per cent disinvested. The choice isn't between disinvestment and non-disinvestment. It's between disinvestment and closing down, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | March 27, 2021 | Updated 16:45 IST
Choice 'between disinvestment and closing down': Hardeep Singh Puri on Air India sale
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri stated on Saturday that Air India will be "100 per cent disinvested" and it "must find a new home". Puri was discussing the disinvestment process of Air India. He also said that prospective buyers have been given a time of 64 days to come up with their bids for the debt-ridden national airlines.

"We've decided that Air India will be 100 per cent disinvested. The choice isn't between disinvestment and non-disinvestment. It's between disinvestment and closing down. Air India is a first-rate asset but has an accumulated debt of Rs 60,000 crore. We need to draw the slate clean," Puri told news agency ANI. "It must find a new home," Puri added.

Multiple parties had shown interest in bidding for the government's stake in Air India last month.

Puri explained, "In the last meeting, on Monday, it was decided that the shortlisted bidders (for Air India disinvestment) be informed that the bids have to come in within 64 days...This time the government is determined and there is no hesitation".

In the Union Budget 2021 presented on February 1, the Centre had allocated Rs 2,286 crore towards a special purpose vehicle. This vehicle has been set up as part of the financial restructuring of the national carrier Air India. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has stated that the disinvestment process of Pawan Hans and Air India would be complete by the next fiscal year.

The government had issued an Expression of Interest (EoI) for Air India back in 2018. The government wanted to offload its 76% stake in Air India and to give up management control of the debt-ridden airlines. At that time, the government did not receive a single bid for Air India. The government still owns 100% equity of Air India.

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