Indian government plans to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India

Representational image. An official said a bomb threat assessment committee is undertaking sanitisation drills on the flight and all 248 passengers and 11 crew members have been de-boarded at Delhi airport

Air India Maharaja on the auction block as govt invites Expression of Interest to sell 76% stake

In June, the Union Cabinet had given in-principle approval for national-carrier Air India's stake disinvestment.

In his budget speech for 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said: "The government has also initiated the process of strategic disinvestment in 24 central public sector enterprises".

The Air India disinvestment transaction will involve Air India, its low-priced arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd. As per the memorandum, the selected bidder should abide by conditions set out in the Request for Proposal (RFP) or the definitive documents to safeguard employees' interests.

Disinvestment-bound Air India has more than 6,200 slots for domestic and worldwide flights, which could be among the key attractions for potential bidders, according to an official document. An Air India official said that another aircraft has been arranged to fly the passengers to Kolkata at 6 pm.

Once the ESOP pool is created for its employees, the government stake may fall below 20 percent, Sinha said, adding that the move would give employees a chance to take part in the future growth of Air India.

Air India was founded in the 1930s and is known to generations of Indians for its Maharajah mascot. This is after the government would have taken out roughly Rs 25,000 crore of debt and placed it in a new entity called Air India Asset Holding Ltd, which will also house some land assets of Air India as well the airlines collection of art and antiques.

On March 22, Air India's maiden flight to Israel landed in Tel Aviv, reducing the travel time substantially after Saudi Arabia for the first time allowed a commercial flight to use its airspace, indicating a thaw in relations between the Arab kingdom and the Jewish state.

The airline is under a massive debt burden of over Rs. 50,000 crore. In case of domestic airlines with a negative net worth, the consortium's ownership will be restricted to 51 percent.

Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Airlines Goh Choon Phong said the carrier was open to acquiring a stake in Air India but had not formally expressed interest, reported Todayonline.

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