Over a year after an attempt to sell state-owned Air India miserably failed, the Indian government is once again trying to offload the debt-laden national carrier onto a private investor. And this time, the country’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri said the perennially loss-making airline would be shut down if attempts to sell the carrier fail.
Last May, the incumbent Modi-government tried to sell a 76 per cent in Air India but didn’t manage to garner a single expression of interest from investors. This time, the government is willing to sell its entire stake in the carrier and even wipe out $11 billion worth of debt to help seal a deal.
Modi is said to have revisited the idea of selling Air India as the country tries to narrow a widening deficit which has apparently been made worse by “dismal” tax collections. The state has already decided to sell its stake in India’s biggest shipping company to boost its coffers.
Senior airline executives and government officials are said to be meeting with potential suitors before the official bid document is released in the next few weeks. Puri told lawmakers that the government would ensure that a “favourable” deal for Air India employees would be worked out.