The disinvestment of loss-making Air India will not happen in “near future”, a senior government official said a Parliamentary panel on Wednesday, according to sources.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture — headed by TMC leader Derek O’ Brien — also sought details about funds infused by the government into Air India, which has been making losses for long.
Senior Civil Aviation Ministry officials appeared before the panel and briefed members about various issues related to the national carrier, sources said.
Responding to a question about the disinvestment plan for Air India, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said, “not immediately, not in new future”, a member who attended the meeting said.
The proposed strategic stake sale of debt-laden Air India failed to take off in May and the government is now working on ways to revive the fortunes of the airline.
According to the sources, various members sought details about taxpayers’ money infused into the carrier in the last few years.
Some members wanted to know specific details about the funds allocated for Air India and how they were used, the sources added.
A Turnaround Plan (TAP) as well as a Financial Restructuring Plan (FRP) were approved for Air India by the previous UPA regime in 2012.
Under these plans, the airline is to get budgetary support amounting to Rs 30,231 crore over a ten-year period and also equity support for the payment of principal/ interest of the non-convertible debentures.
So far, the airline has received more than Rs 270 billion worth equity infusion. The carrier’s debt burden was more than Rs 480 billion at the end of March 2017.
As per the disinvestment plan, which did not elicit any preliminary bids, the government had proposed to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control to private players.
The transaction would have involve Air India, its low cost arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS Ltd, according to the preliminary information memorandum.