Air India, which loses $3.6 million a day will issue an expression of interest for the privatization “in a matter of weeks”, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.
In November, the minister had told Parliament that the national carrier, might have to shut down if it was not privatized.
However, the minister said on Tuesday the airline won’t be shut down and have confidence that and exuded confidence that investor response would be favourable.
He was positive considering Air India’s robust service network on domestic and international routes, besides its strong brand recall.
The airline has a debt burden of around $8.5 billion, working on the modalities for the disinvestment.
The airline was founded by J. R. D. Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932.
In 1953, the Government of India passed the Air Corporations Act and purchased a majority stake in the carrier from Tata Sons though its founder J. R. D. Tata, would continue as Chairman till 1977.
The company was renamed as Air India International Limited and the domestic services were transferred to Indian Airlines as a part of a restructuring.
On 28 June 2017, the Government of India approved the privatisation of Air India. A committee has been set up to start the process.
So far, the airline failed to attract any bidders.
“We will be seeking expressions of interest in the coming few weeks and, hopefully, sooner than later, the process of privatization will set in,” said the minister.
The minister also said the government is committed to privatizing six more airports —Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur and Trichy—following the recommendations of the Airports Authority of India.
In February, the government had privatized the Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati airports.