Even as the process for disinvestment of national carrier Air India is already set in motion, the government has asked the airline management to start new flights only if it is extremely necessary after due diligence of commercial interest.
The airline has also been asked to put a freeze on large-scale appointments and promotions.
Air India has plans to sell 30 unutilised tracts of land in cities like Mumbai and Delhi to retire the debt transferred to special purpose vehicle Air India Asset Holding, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Parliament on Thursday.
These land parcels include 1.7 lakh sq m and 14,326 sq m plots in Mumbai and New Delhi, respectively. Other cities where the national carrier holds unused land are Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad.
Ahead of the proposed sale of the loss-making Air India, an anxious ministry of civil aviation has called for an impact analysis of the closure of Jet Airways. Ernst & Young (EY), the advisors to the sale, which flopped the first time, has been tasked with assessing the chances of a success in the light of shutdown of Jet Airways.
The build-up to Air India privatisation has taken off in full swing with the Union Budget announcing it as the centrepiece of divestment this year. The government is targeting October as the deadline for announcing the deal.
Not leaving anything to chance after a failed attempt earlier, the government has shortlisted the potential bidders, with the Tata group on top for its interest in aviation.
A SpiceJet plane Sunday overshot the runway while landing at the Surat Airport, while an Air India Express flight had a narrow escape when the aircraft that arrived from Dubai veered off the taxiway after landing at Mangaluru Internatioal Airport.
None of the passengers and crew members on board were hurt in the incident, an airport official at Surat airport said.
Hours after civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri's remark in parliament on Thursday that the present economic environment is not conducive for stake sales in Air India, the ministry issued a statement contradicting it. The ministry release said that the non-conducive environment was last year. However, things have improved now and the government plans to go ahead with privatisation.
The Finance Ministry is preparing a fresh proposal for sale of Air India, incorporating issues like crude oil prices and exchange rate volatility, flagged by EY last year on possible reasons of the government failing to attract bidders for the national carrier. The ministry’s proposal, to be placed before Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM), will also include option of selling either 100 per cent or 76 per cent government stake in Air India.
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