Union minister Jayant Sinha today clarified that there was no formal expression of interest from the Tatas as regards the stake sale of Air India. The comment of the Union minister of state for civil aviation sought to clear the air after he told a television news channel yesterday that there were indications of interest from the Tatas for Air India. “No, there is no formal expression of interest from the Tatas on Air India,” he told reporters here. Sinha said his words as regards the Tatas’ indication of interest were in reference to comments made by N Chandrasekharan, the executive chairman of the Tata Sons Ltd, on television about the company exploring the possibilities of participating in the stake sale of Air India.
“We have, of course, received from both IndiGo as well as the Tatas indications of interest for the airline (Air India), and then we have received formal indications of interest for the other aspects of the Air India group. Those are the formal indications we have received so far,” Sinha had told television channel CNBC TV18 yesterday. The minister clarified that so far, IndiGo was the only airline which had formally written to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, showing an interest in Air India.
“We will definitely look at it,” Chandrasekharan had told a TV channel and added, “We still do not have all the details. Every business proposal will be very seriously looked at and we will definitely look at that (Air India). But currently, we do not have the data.” Ground services providers such as the Bird Group and Turkish company Celebi have also shown interest in acquiring the ground handling arm of Air India, the Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL).
On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had given its in-principle nod for the strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries. Subsequently, an Air India-specific alternative mechanism was set up to guide the process. The ministerial group is looking into the treatment of Air India’s unsustainable debt, hiving off of certain assets to a shell company, demerger and strategic disinvestment of three of its profit-making subsidiaries among other aspects.