This time, according to Puri, “100 per cent is the current thinking everywhere, as last time we went in wanting to retain 24 per cent and clearly that was not conducive to the process”. He declined to give details of the discussions among the Group of Ministers or GoM that met earlier this month to discuss the sale, but declared, “I'm absolutely sure that we will complete the privatization sooner rather than later.” Lohani said the Expression of Interest was expected to be finalized in October.
Asked if he was concerned about the reported opposition of employee unions to privatization, Puri replied, “No, I'm not, because whenever you undertake a process of this kind you will obviously ensure those…there are issues relating to assets of the company, manpower, medical cover, so we will look after all that. If you’re determined to go through with privatization, then you will not allow yourself to be derailed by concern X or Y.”
At Pearson on Friday, bonhomie prevailed as the flight and cabin crew greeted the minister and posed for photographs with him.
Puri said he was “appalled” that Air India's popular daily service on this busy sector had been withdrawn seven years ago, and added that he had made it a priority as soon as he got the civil aviation portfolio, to resume the flight. Indian officials noted that there are around 16 lakh people of Indian origin, as well as over 170,000 Indian students, in Canada.
is starting off with three flights a week on this route for now and hopes to bump it up to six flights a week by the end of the year, and then to daily service, depending on the traffic.
The demand was evident from the fact that the flights are fully booked for the next couple of months leading up to the peak holiday season.
The airline’s Deputy General Manager (Commercial) and Toronto Co-ordinator, Sandeep Roy Choudhury, said their service was competitively priced against competitors like Air Canada, Emirates and Etihad.
“We are offering two pieces of baggage, another USP for us, and that's all the way to various destinations in India, and particularly on long haul flights, giving two pieces of baggage is a very big attraction for the passengers,” he said. The carrier is using the Boeing 777-300 long-range aircraft for the roughly 14-and-a-half-hour flight. Puri left Toronto for Delhi on the