NEW DELHI: The long-awaited privatisation of Air India (AI) is expected to be delayed further as the government is making sure there are enough buyers this time for the bidding.
According to an official, it won’t be surprising if the government pushes issuing an expression of interest to early next year as it is still seeking inputs for corporate houses that have shown interest in buying the airline.
It was expected till last month that the government would open bids for the airline in November/ early December with relaxed norms so it meets its divestment target for financial year 2020.
However, the stake sale committee is yet to hold the planned roadshows in Singapore and then London to boost investor interest in the national carrier. The disinvestment of AI will be handled by Department of Investment and Public Assets Management that reports to the finance ministry, and the ultimate call on the process would be taken by AI Specific Alternative Mechanism headed by Home Minister Amit Shah.
Below than expected interest shown by Qatar Airways recently has come as a surprise for the government, which is expected to woo major global carriers to investment in India, he said.
The government has already hinted relaxing t h e F D I norms in the aviation sector to attract foreign investors.
Qatar Airways, one of the top players whose name popped up during the government’s first attempt to sell majority stake in the carrier, has already made it clear it is not willing to invest in AI until it has a right partner and labour issues are sorted out.
AI CMD Ashwani Lohani informed employees through a letter that the management is taking adequate steps to protect their interests after the divestment process.