Despite the losses, the airline has some lucrative assets which include prized slots at London’s choked Heathrow airport, a fleet of more than 100 planes and thousands of trained pilots and crew. The airline will have to shut down if it can’t find a buyer, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the parliament last year. The new proposal sweetens the deal.
A spokesman for the aviation ministry referred queries to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, a unit of the Finance Ministry. A finance ministry spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment.
At least two previous attempts to sell the airline -- once about two decades ago and another in 2018 -- have flopped. In 2001, Singapore Airlines Ltd. dropped its bid for a stake in Air India, citing political opposition as one of the reasons. The Southeast Asian carrier was seeking a 40% stake with India’s Tata Group.
Potential buyers this time have requested the government to extend the deadline to submit initial bids due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government said last month. Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group which operates under the brand Vistara, is evaluating a possible bid, its chairman Chairman Bhaskar Bhat said earlier this year.
IndiGo, India’s biggest airline that’s operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, showed interest in Air India’s international operations and low-cost carrier Air India
Express in a previous offer to sale, but it pulled out saying the no-frills airline is unable to buy and turn around Air India’s operations in their entirety.
Indian officials met with as many as nine companies during roadshows to gauge interest in a stake sale including British Airways’ parent IAG SA, IndiGo, SpiceJet Ltd as well as the Tata Group, Bloomberg News
reported earlier this year.