May 31, 2017: While the government is looking at all possible options including disinvestment for Air India in a bid to turnaround the state-owned airline burdened by a mountain of debt, Niti Aayog has proposed total privatisation of the national carrier in a report to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Aayog has cited various international examples of governments selling their entire stakes in airlines like the British Airways, Japan Airlines and Austrian Air in order to make them viable.
Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said the government is examining the suggestions made by the think tank.
According to sources, the government expects to make a decision on the future of Air India within three months.
The Narendra Modi government has already started discussions on a plan to divest stake in the carrier, which is surviving on a Rs 30,231-crore nine-year bailout programme originally approved by the previous Manmohan Singh government in 2012.
Air India, which has accumulated losses of over Rs 50,000 crore, is sitting also on about Rs 55,000 crore of debt — about Rs 22,000 crore of loans taken to finance aircraft purchase and the rest for working capital.