The government is reportedly planning to invite preliminary bids to disinvest 100 per cent stake in Air India. The notification inviting bids is almost ready and is most likely to be floated by month-end or next month, sources told news agency PTI.
Some entities have already expressed interest in buying Air India, PTI quoted sources as saying. The Expression of Interest (EoI) document to invite bids is being given final touches, the report said. Bidding for the debt-laden national carrier will be conducted through a newly-developed e-bidding system.
Presently, Air India is sitting on a debt pile of Rs 58,000 crore, along with accumulated losses amounting to thousands of crores. The airline also has huge outstanding dues to oil companies. On October 18, oil companies agreed to defer stopping fuel supplies to the carrier after it promised to adhere to the schedule of clearing past outstanding dues.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) had on October 5 written to Air India that they will stop supplying aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to its aircraft at six major airports from October 18 if it didn't honour its payment commitments. Air India owes the three firms over Rs 5,000 crore in past fuel bills.
Air India had first in June and again in September agreed to pay this amount in monthly instalments of Rs 100 crore. But it failed to honour the payment commitment, leading to the October 5 notice. Air India buys about Rs 25-26 crore worth of fuel every day from the three oil companies.
On August 22, IOC, BPCL and HPCL had stopped fuel supplies to Air India at six airports of Kochi, Mohali, Pune, Patna, Ranchi and Vizag over payment defaults. The supplies were resumed on September 7 after the intervention of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.