The civil aviation ministry aims to complete stake sale exercise in Air India by the end of this year, union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told CNBC-TV18 on Thursday.
"Answer is a emphatic No. We would not have given this extension also. But some prospective bidders requested the concerned government departments and transaction advisors that under these conditions they would find it difficult to come here. So this was a difficult decision made after considerable consideration," Puri said when asked whether the government would postpone Air India divestment beyond the current financial year 2020-21 (April-March) due to COVID-19.
The government recently extended the deadline till October 30 for submission of preliminary bids to buy 100 percent stake in Air India.
The process of stake sale in the national carrier was initiated on January 27. This is the fourth extension given by the government for submission of preliminary bids.
"This is a final two-month extension. I am confident that there is interest. I base this on the feedback received from transaction advisors, officials. We will see several preliminary bids and financial bids," Puri said.
This is the second attempt of the government to sell the national carrier as it did not find any takers in the first round itself when it offered to sell 76 percent stake in Air India in 2018.
"I am confident that we will complete this by the end of the year. There is interest in the airline both among domestic entities and NRIs and foreign entities outside," Puri added.
First Published: IST