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Debt-ridden Indian airline needs to survive until sold by govt

Published : Monday, 16 December, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 59

NEW DELHI, Dec 15: The chairman of the cash-strapped state-owned carrier Air India said the national air carrier needs to survive until it was sold.
"Air India needs to survive till it is sold," Air India's Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said on his social media account.
"I wonder why is it so difficult for this appreciation to sink in," said Lohani, noting that a radical improvement bordering on a turnaround is an impractical thought in "this environment of disinvestment."
Earlier this month, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the parliament that the preparation of preliminary information memorandum for inviting expression of interest for Air India disinvestment was in process.
Reports said Air India management has sent an SOS to the government, seeking immediate sovereign guarantee for raising fresh loan to somehow keep flying until the outcome of the second divestment process is known.
With no response to that so far, the airline is finding it difficult to continue operations.
Last month India's federal Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a local newspaper that debt-ridden Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited are expected to be sold by the government by March 2020.
Air India is crumbling under huge debt and grappling with a financial crisis.
In March 2018, the Indian government planned to divest 76 per cent stake in Air India. The proposed move, however, failed to take off as the government did not receive any expressions of interest from potential bidders.
The government ignored a parliamentary panel's recommendation to give the debt-ridden airline five years to revive itself.    -Xinhua

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