"The government's determination to privatise Air India is a given. We have to get the best possible deal and get it in the shortest time available. People are very much interested in acquiring Air India," the Union Minister said.
For the disinvesment process, the official said the airline's books of accounts till July 15 have been closed and those financials would be used while seeking bids. Promotions and fresh appointments have also been frozen ahead of the stake sale for Air India.
After a year of government's initiation, no bidders came forward in the disinvestment process for debt-laden Air India. The deadline for submission of initial bids for Air India stake sale ended on May
As per the information memorandum, issued in March, the government would retain 24 per cent stake in the national carrier, the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years.
On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave in-principle approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries. Sources said the move came after taking into consideration recommendations made by government think tank Niti Aayog and the core group of secretaries on disinvestment.
In an internal communication to the airline's employees, Lohani refers to the airline's accumulated debt of over Rs. 50,000 crore and says "survival in the long run is almost impossible and the proposal to consider disinvestment is a step in this direction."