Interglobe Aviation Limited or IndiGo on Thursday expressed interest in investing in Air India, a day after the Union Cabinet gave an ‘in-principle’ nod to disinvest its stake in the national carrier. Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey confirmed that executives of IndiGo, one of Air India’s competitors, had formally written to the ministry expressing interest.
IndiGo said in a letter it would be interested in buying out the International operations of Air India and its low-cost wing, Air India Express. If that was not possible, it would like to buy the entire Air India flight operations, including domestic, IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said in the letter.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Wednesday announced the Cabinet’s decision to sell its stake in the airline. Choubey told reporters, “Post the cabinet decision, we have received an expression of interest for Air India from IndiGo. They have said that they are interested in Air India.”
The airline has total liabilities of about Rs 60,000 crore of which Rs 52,000 crore is bank debt. It owes Rs 8,000 cr to oil PSUs and Airports Authority of India. Rs 4,500 cr is its annual interest outgo. The airline is currently surviving on a government bailout package of Rs 30,000 crore. It is unclear as to what will be the quantum of divestment. It will be decided by a ministerial group.
The airline was given a bailout package in 2012 by the UPA government of which it has so far received Rs 24,000 crore. In May, government think-tank NITI Aayog had suggested a full disinvestment beginning with hiving off its profit-making subsidiaries. Air India was nationalised in 1953.