|Air India CMD Pradeep Singh Kharola|
While major disinvestments, including ONGC’s acquisition of HPCL, CPSE ETF, Bharat-22 ETF, and Coal India stake sale, along with 6 initial public offerings (IPO) brought Rs 77,417 crore to the government coffers last year, while the year was...
marred by botched attempt of the government to sell 74 per cent stake in Air India.
The government has now firmed up a fresh plan for the sale of the airline. As part of the plan, it will sell subsidiaries, like Air India Air Transport Service Ltd (AIATSL), Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL), and land and building assets of Air India separately to help trim Rs 29,000 crore debt burden of the national carrier.
The government will continue to infuse funds into the airline to keep it viable, and finally sell it after extensive deliberations with potential investors to ensure that the airline gets the best valuation.
The subsidiaries and assets alone are expected to fetch the government close to Rs 9,000 crore.
The first off the blocks in strategic sale plan for 2019 will be Pawan Hans where the government holds 51 per cent, while oil major ONGC holds the remaining stake. The sale of helicopter service provider Pawan Hans is expected to be completed by March.
Meanwhile, Air India, which is going through an extremely difficult financial situation, is working to improve services as well as expand domestic and international routes, its chief Pradeep Singh Kharola said. In a New Year message to employees, he urged them to work as a team with dedication and enthusiasm to take the national carrier to new heights.
The government has prepared a revival plan, that includes a comprehensive financial package for Air India, which is estimated to have debt worth over Rs 55,000 crore.
Saying that the airline has a proud legacy, the chairman and managing director also said it is already working on improving services as well as expanding domestic and international networks.
Last week, the civil aviation ministry told the Lok Sabha that the government has prepared a revival plan for Air India that provides for a comprehensive financial package, differentiated strategies for each of the airline’s core businesses and robust organisational reforms.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had said the government plans to rope in professionals for top positions at Air India through a global search process.
Various initiatives to turnaround the national carrier, which is staying afloat on a bailout package extended by the previous government, including monetisation of real estate assets are progressing. The proposed strategic disinvestment of the airline failed to take off in 2018.
The Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) has directed to separately decide the contours of the mode of disposal of the subsidiaries -- Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL), Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL) and Airline Allied Services Ltd (AASL).