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All eyes on AI EoI on Monday, likely suitors are Tatas, Hindujas
TIWN
All eyes on AI EoI on Monday, likely suitors are Tatas, Hindujas
PHOTO : TIWN

New Delhi, Jan 26 (TIWN) As the government is set to invite preliminary bids from potential investors for selling 100 per cent stake in Air India on Monday, all eyes are on the portion of airline debt to be taken off its books and qualification for suitors.

Prospective buyers would have to respond to the Expression of Interest (EoI) by March 17, 2020.

Industry sources said that some of the potential bidders could be Tata Group, Hindujas, IndiGo, SpiceJet and a few private equity firms.

Some of the foreign airlines could tie up with local players to place their joint bids.

While overall economic environment remains subdued, industry analysts said that there would be significant investor interest for Air India given its wide domestic and international network, traffic rights, slots at key foreign airports such as London and Dubai, technical manpower and large fleet.

"Besides, the government is ready to go the extra mile to sell off the airline. The government has hinted that it will agree to the demands of potential buyers as it is determined to completely exit the airline business," said Rajan Mehra, CEO of Club One Air and former India head of Qatar Airways.

Air India is currently bleeding heavily with average daily loss pegged at Rs 20-25 crore. The Modi government is not keen to give any further financial support to the airline and has announced to shut it down if the second disinvestment bid fails.

As per official data, Air India had an operating revenue of Rs 25,509 crore in FY19. As its operating expense during the fiscal was Rs 30,194 crore, the airline had an operating loss of Rs 4,685 crore. On a net basis, its loss was a record high at Rs 8,556 crore (provisional) in the previous financial year.

Air India has a fleet of 125 aircraft and its domestic market share is 11.9 per cent as on December, 2019.

The Modi government had invited the EoI in 2018 to sell 76 per cent stake in the airline but it ended up being a no-show with not a single private firm expressing interest.

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