Air India’s (AI) third attempt to secure a buyer is likely to draw a blank. The bid, which closes on October 30, is expected to be postponed again. The restrictive terms have scared away buyers each time.
The government believed buyers would line up despite the huge liabilities. Every year of delay will only make AI less attractive to any potential buyer. Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri was candid enough to admit in Parliament: “With Rs 60,000 crores debt, the choice is not between privatisation and non- privatisation…but between privatisation and closing down.”
In the new terms proposed, the government wants to offer 100% equity for sale of the airline and has wisely bundled Air India Express (the low-cost carrier unit) along with engineering and other subsidiaries