New Delhi: Amid several airlines indicating interest in Air India’s disinvestment, the civil aviation minister Gajpathi Raju on Tuesday said “unsolicited” Expressions of Interest (EOI) at this stage is “not relevant”. Raju made a statement in the Rajya Sabha while replying to a question raised by CPI MP D Raja. Though the ministry has received only two EoIs for the strategic divestment of Air India-- from IndiGo and from a foreign player for strategic divestment of Air India, there are many others such as Vistara and Singapore Airways who are reportedly in talks with the government for buying Air India.
“The draft EOI document inviting proposals for disinvestment of airline is yet to be issued. Formal proposals from prospective bidders would be received thereafter only. Any unsolicited EOI at this stage is not relevant,” Raju said. A Group of Ministers led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is looking into the contours of disinvestment of Air India. Last month, the government tweaked Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms allowing foreign carriers to own 49 percent in Air India. By this year-end, the government is expected to execute the disinvestment process of the over Rs 50,000 crore debt-ridden airline.
Meanwhile, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha informed the parliament that Air India has been able to mop up Rs 445 crore from monetisation of its land assets since 2012. The amount collected by Air India so far is a tenth of the target that was set for it under the Turnaround Plan approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in 2012. The Turn Around Plan also provides for financial assistance to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore over a ten-year period for the debt-laden Air India. Of this, the airline has already received more than Rs 26,000 crore.