Air India may get new buyers in May-June

New Delhi (IANS) The much-delayed privatisation of Air India is likely to complete in the first half of this year.

Speaking at the Times Network India Economic Conclave, the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri said that financial bids for the national carrier will be submitted sometime in May. He said that the timeline for the submission of financial bids was decided in a meeting on Thursday.

“Yesterday there was a meeting. They have decided that the financial bids have to come in within 64 days…the financial bids will be in sometine in May…after that its a question of taking a decision and handing over the airline,” he said.

He added that earlier attempts at privatisation were not successful because the attempts were “half hearted”.

The airline which did not attracted any buyer for long now has witnessed Tata Sons and SpiceJet’s promoter Ajay Singh come up as potential bidders, according to industry sources.

Further, reports suggest that Ajay Singh has partnered with Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, and Ankur Bhatia, promoter of Delhi-based Bird Group to jointly place the bid for Air India.

DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey had earlier said that the government has received multiple expressions of interest for the strategic disinvestment of Air India.

The process has been divided into two stages. In stage one, expressions of interest have been submitted by the interested bidders and they will be shortlisted based on the eligibility criteria and other terms mentioned in the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM).

In stage two, the shortlisted interested bidders will be provided with a request for proposal (RFP) and thereafter there will be a transparent bidding process.

A group of 209 employees of Air India had also put in a bid. Essar and Pavan Ruia of Dunlop and Falcon Tyres had also put in bids for Air India.

The privatisation of the flag-bearer has already faced several hurdles with an initial lack of interest for the airline.

In view of the situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the last date for submission of EOIs was extended up to December 14, 2020.

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