The Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey confirmed CNBC-TV18's news break yesterday that the government will not extend the deadline for submission of formal expression of interest (EoI) for buying 76% stake in Air India.
While explaining how most of the formal EoIs are submitted at the last hour, Choubey said, “We have not received any bids so far, but we are hopeful. No question of extending the May 31 deadline.”
In another major development brewing in the aviation space is the investigation initiated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in grant of license to Air Asia in 2013, where Group CEO of Air Asia Tony Fernandes and role of two United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government ministers will be probed.
The secretary responded to this development by saying that his department has not received any CBI details on Air Asia probe yet, but ‘aviation ministry is not looking at a separate probe.’
Despite a lukewarm response so far, sources had told CNBC-TV18 yesterday that the government is unlikely to extend the deadline for submitting formal expression of interest for the Maharajah.
The deadline has already been extended from May 15 to May 31.
Government officials remain confident of getting a positive response within the May 31 deadline.
The government is confident because of the fact that most of the divestment processes have seen people coming and submitting their formal EoI only during the last two or three days.
Top sources close to the divestment process further say that there has been ‘lukewarm response’ from Indian airlines and non-aviation entities in the country.
“We are hoping to get foreign investors. The transaction advisor (Ernst and Young) has been holding roadshows for past three weeks in Europe and Asia,” official said.
The government is looking at divesting 76% of its stake in Air India but will be retaining 24%.
The Civil Aviation Ministry put out clarifications for 160 questions from interested bidders on the disinvestment of Air India and its two subsidiaries — Air India Express and AI-SATS.
The government had subsequently issued a corrigendum on May 1 that extends the deadline for announcing the successful bidder to June 15, 2018.
On asked whether 2018 end remains the Narendra Modi led government's target for divesting the national carrier, sources said, “We are on track.”