Aviation

Coronavirus situation not to impact Air India divestment, says Hardeep Singh Puri at ET GBS 2020

The global slowdown situation that has arisen due to spread of coronavirus will not impact the divestment of Air India, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at the Economic Times Global Business Summit.

“Domestic as well as international entities, including entities involved in running airlines, have shown interest in Air India and coronavirus news situation is not to impact divestment of the national carrier,” Puri said.

He added that Air India will generate interest because it’s a first-rate asset.

“Air India has 120 planes (excluding 27 operated by Air India Express) and the airline flies to a large number of international destinations and has a diverse domestic network. There would be a lot of interest because of the assets that the airline has,” Puri said.

He added that the divestment plan failed last time due to various reasons like the government keeping 24% in the airline post divestment and selling it with a large amount of debt.

“All of them have been addressed now,” he said.

The government, which failed to get any bids for the national carrier in 2018, has called for bids for the national carrier offering 100% in the airline that includes, low-cost international subsidiary Air India Express and 50% in the ground handling subsidiary Air India Singapore Airport Terminal Services.

In the new bid, the government has also reduced the debt from Rs 62,000 crore to Rs 23,286 crore, which the government says is the current valuation of the aircraft that the national carrier owns and operates.

While companies are tightlipped about their interest in the national carrier, Vistara Chairman Bhaskar Bhat recently said that the airline, which is a 51:49 joint venture between the Tata Group and Singapore International Airlines, is evaluating Air India.

On the issue of slowdown in the economy, Puri said that there are green shots in the economy available and the economy is not necessarily going through a slowdown.

“We need to look at India’s growth number in the context of global situation. We should look at our numbers in the context of global economies,” Puri said.https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/airlines-/-aviation/coronavirus-situation-not-to-impact-air-india-divestment-says-hardeep-singh-puri-at-et-gbs-2020/articleshow/74524794.cms

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