Air India privatisation: Govt ready to call off sale if bids too low

New Delhi: The government expects sale of Air India to be a success, going by the number of investor queries received so far, but is open to calling off the sale if bids do not meet expectations.

Civil aviation secretary R.N. Choubey on Tuesday told reporters that 160 queries have so far been received for the proposed sale of 76% in Air India Ltd, along with 100% stake in low-cost international carrier Air India Express Ltd and 50% in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt. Ltd.

“The government has the right to sell or not to sell Air India if the bid price is found to be inadequate,” Choubey told reporters here. Choubey expressed confidence that the sale will fetch the price it expects.

While the deadline for submission of Expression of Interest (EoI) ends on May 31, the Secretary said the Request for Proposal could be issued after June 15. He said the highest bidder for the airline would be known by the end of August. Choubey said the government intends to complete the disinvestment process by this year end.

“Though the transaction adviser (EY) will assess the enterprise value, the right price for the airline will be decided by us,” he said.

Asked about Air India employees union protests against the proposed sale, he said that airlines the worldover have done well after privatisation. “Service terms of employees will be protected,” said the secretary.livemint