Indian Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha says the sell-off of Air India is on track and he believes bids will come in “six to eight months” with deals closed a few months after – toward the end of the year.
India had the third largest domestic aviation market in the world and it was mature, competitive, well-regulated and dominated by private airlines. So, Air India was no longer a strategic priority for the Indian Government, Sinha said.
The minister said the country’s planning body Niti Aayog and Finance Ministry Arun Jaitley wanted the government to invest taxpayers’ funds into areas such as health, sanitation, education, vital infrastructure and defense, the Economic Times reported.
He said a parliamentary committee was currently discussing the sale and it would hold a crucial meeting on January 15 to discuss its report on the issue.
The minister said the government would make sure the bidders sustain a viable airline although officials were yet to decide on what debt will be absorbed and how much included with operating entities. It also plans to create a ‘special-purpose-vehicle’ to sell the non-core assets.
The government has decided to open the books of the airline to all prospective bidders. They can access all information regarding assets, liabilities and contracts signed to date, provided they sign a non-disclosure agreement.