Air India will have to shut down if not privatized: Aviation Minister

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India’s national carrier, Air India will have to shut down if it’s not privatized, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, said in parliament on Wed, in response to a lawmaker’s question on the topic.

A group of officials, including India’s Home and Finance ministers, is in the process of finalizing and inviting bids from the various private sector and companies for the loss-making national carrier.

The company has profitable landing slots in India and across the globe, however, it has been a burden on the pecuniary resource for years.

Officials are still deliberating over some details, Once they’ve finalized the process, the govt. will invite bids, Puri said. adding that the government is committed to selling the company.

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Last year it failed to attract any bidders when it tried to sell a 76 stake in the airline and offload regarding USD 5.1 billion of Air India’s debt.

It is currently re-evaluating a number of the terms and is open to selling the airline in its totality, Puri said in a written response to a separate question in Parliament today. it’s also considerably reducing its debt to make it a lot of attractive.

One of the biggest hurdles is its large number of staff in Air India – Air India has about 9,400 permanent employees and 4,200 contract staff.

Puri said in Parliament that the govt. is committed to securing a deal that’s favorable for the staff. “The government is committed to the strategic withdrawal of Air India,” Puri said in a written response to an additional question in parliament on the same subject on Wednesday.

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“Any extra financial support in a very mature and competitive aviation market would not be the best use of scarce financial resources of the govt.,” he added.

“Air India would have a status on a par with other selected carriers of India, post-disinvestment.”

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