After IndiGo, Jet airways may step back from bidding

In any case it never made sense for Indi Go to go solo on Air India. Graphic Sarvesh Kumar Sharma  Mint

"We welcome the government move to privatise Air India".

He further added that the government meant to make the divestment process to the "earliest" and asserted that Air India's operations would not be split in the bidding process.

Serious corrections may be needed in the bid conditions of Air India after Jet Airways and IndiGo opted out of the divestment of the national airline, said a senior aviation analyst. There is already talk that Jet Airways may tie up with Air France-KLM for making a bid for Air India. "It is a bold step", Jet Airways' deputy chief executive, Amit Agarwal said in a statement e-mailed to AFP.

Air India ran losses for almost a decade after a botched merger in 2007 and has debts of around $7.67 billion according to government figures.

IndiGo, India's largest airline, withdrew on Friday, saying it was interested only in Air India's worldwide routes and not its domestic operations.

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Ground-handling agencies including the Bird Group and Turkey's Celebi too had written to the Ministry with a specific interest in buying Air India's ground-handling arm, Air India Airport Transport Services Ltd.

"From day one, IndiGo has expressed its interest primarily in the acquisition of Air India's worldwide operation and Air India Express".

The announcement came just days after rival IndiGo pulled out of the race to acquire Air India's operations meaning the government now has no clear frontrunner in the sale campaign. The existing debt and liabilities of Air India and Air India Express as on 31 March 2017 would be re-allocated, as per the memorandum. "The balance debt shall be allocated to Air India Asset Holding Limited which is 100 per cent owned by the Government of India subject to receipt of requisite approvals from lenders and regulators, as applicable", the memorandum said. Nonetheless, according to The Financial Express, the ministry has ruled out any extension in the May 14 deadline for interested bidders to submit their initial proposals.

The debt-ridden national carrier is staying afloat on little over Rs 300 billion bailout package extended by the previous UPA regime.

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