Will consider other alternatives depending on market conditions, says MoS
The government is committed to the strategic disinvestment of Air India even though the bid process initiated in March failed to attract private players, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said on Wednesday.
However, it is still unclear as to when the government plans to have another go at privatising the national carrier.
In the meantime, the board of directors of Air India will prepare a plan to manage affairs at the airline and subsequently share their financial requirement with the government, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu told a press conference on the achievements of the ministry.
“We ran a disinvestment process …nobody expressed any interest in that process. So, by that set of circumstances, it is clear that specific process is over and we have to move forward and consider other alternatives. But we can restart that or any other process depending on appropriate market circumstances,” said Mr. Sinha.
He did not answer a question on whether the government could alter the terms of the stake sale and invite another round of bids before general elections next year.
The government cited changing market conditions due to the rise in fuel prices and the weakening of the rupee for the lack of interest in Air India’s stake sale. It said that a decision on the carrier’s privatisation would be taken when these circumstances improve.
The decision to put Air India’s privatisation on the back-burner was taken at a meeting of the group of ministers on Monday. The GoM is headed by Union Minister Arun Jaitley.
Interested bidders and industry analysts had raised questions about the government’s plan to sell 76% stake in the national carrier and hold on to the remaining share, while passing on debt of ₹33,392 crore to the buyer, and a lack of clarity on obligations towards Air India employees.