New Delhi: In the last leg of its five-year tenure, the Modi government on Tuesday cleared the strategic sale of Air India’s ground handling subsidiary AIATSL. Proceeds from the sale of AIATSL would be used to pay off part of Air India’s massive debt.
The decision has come months after the government’s attempt to sell a majority 76 per cent stake in the ailing carrier proved a damp squib, failing to get a single bid from private investors.
A ministerial panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley with other heavyweights like Nitin Gadkari as its members has approved the expression of interest (EoI) and preliminary information memorandum (PIM), kicking off the sale process of Air India Air Transport Services (AIATSL).
Following a meeting of the ministerial panel, aviation secretary RN Choubey said that government has decided to completely divest the stake in the ground-handling company.
“The alternative mechanism has approved EoI together with preliminary information memorandum for Air India Air Transport Services (AIATSL) sale,” Choubey told reporters here.
The government is hopeful of getting enough interest from private parties for AIATSL as it is a profit-making company. The firm earned a profit of Rs 61.66 crore in 2016-17 from its ground-handling operations across various airports. Incorporated in June 2003, AIATSL provides ground handling services such as baggage movement, cargo and security at various airports.
The plan to sell some of the Air India subsidiaries has been in works for some months now and it forms part of the overall revival plan for the state-owned carrier. Overloaded with an unsustainable debt of about Rs 50,000 crore, the airline is finding it tough to survive in one of the world's most competitive aviation markets....