New Delhi: The ministry of civil aviation has permitted consortium of entities to bid for Air India. The consortium will have one lead member with each entity holding 20% share.
The Centre on Tuesday also proposed selling 76% stakes in Air India to private parties, with the condition that the brand 'Air India' will be retained and the control of the national-carrier will be with Indian nationals.
The government in its statement proposed only companies with the minimum net worth of Rs 5,000 crore can bid for Air India and the lead member shall hold at least 51% of paid-up capital.
While the government remains committed to privatising the airline and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha has reiterated his stand in the past that Air India would be in private hands by December, time seems to be running out in the government's efforts.
The airline's 2016-17 accounts are still under audit even as another financial year – 2017-18 – is drawing to a close. Being an unlisted loss-incurring company, Air India has generally been late in preparing its accounts.
A new buyer will need the latest audited financial statements to decide on bidding for the airline or not. If the divestment doesn't happen by December, then it is certain that it will be deferred until the next financial year as elections are due April-May 2019.