New Delhi: Going the whole hog to sell Air India this time after the Modi 1.0 government’s failed bid, the group of ministers (GoM) led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to decide the reserve price of the national carrier and dealing with its large debt.
Among other issues are golden handshake to staff reaching a certain age and extending medical facilities to those who have already retired or would retire in years to come.
Official sources said that the government is nearly decided over a complete exit and making a necessary change in eligibility criteria and other terms to align it with the needs of the potential investors.
“Major decisions left are fixing the fair price of Air India and handling the debt. Then contours of the disinvestment and retaining employees are other issues,” said an official.
The meeting schedule of the group of ministers is yet to be decided but is expected shortly. Apart from Shah, the ministerial panel has Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri as the members.
The previous Modi government had dropped the disinvestment plan citing adverse operating environment with global crude prices rising and rupee weakening against the dollar. The investor sentiment was also tepid. Above all, an impending general election did not make political sense to go for disinvestment of Air India which is generally associated with the country’s pride and sometimes termed as “jewel of the nation.”
While the country’s aviation environment has changed in the last one year with Jet Airways out of the scene now, experts see prevailing conditions better than May 2018 when not a single bidder showed interest for Air India at EoI (expression of interest) level.
Kapil Kaul, CEO (South Asia) of Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) sees the current operating and investment environment better than last year. He sees investors showing interest for the national carrier provided some of their issues are sorted out. (IANS)
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