‘Air India disinvestment not in near future’

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New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) The disinvestment of financially-strained national passenger carrier Air India will not happen in the near future, informed sources quoted a civil aviation official informing a parliamentary panel on Wednesday.

“They don’t have any plans in the near future as they don’t have any buyers,” said a member on the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture who was present at a panel meeting attended by Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey.

Senior Civil Aviation Ministry officials briefed the panel on various issues plaguing the national carrier. The panel members wanted to know the amount of funds being infused into Air India, which the government failed to disinvest in May.

The Central government had invited Expression of Interest on March 28 for disinvestment of Air India, including its share-holding interest in Air India Express Ltd and Air India SATS. But it received no response till May 31, the closing day.

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On August 22, a senior Finance Ministry official said that the government plans to transfer the debt and non-core assets of the loss-making carrier to a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

The proposal is expected to financially revive the debt-ridden airline through the sale of its non-core assets.

“What they (Air India Board) have suggested is… a proposal… for making a special purpose vehicle, transferring its non-core assets and the unsustainable debt to that SPV and then encashing through sale or divestment of those assets,” a Ministry official said.

The official said: “As of now, as stated in the budget that capital infusion will be made… other than that there is no such plan for fresh capital infusion.”

On August 7, Parliament approved additional gross additional expenditure of Rs 980 crore for equity infusion into the airline.

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