The past week began with the commencement of the Monsoon session of the Parliament. A significant amount of information is shared during Parliament sessions as the central government is required to respond to the questions asked by other members of parliament in a written or oral manner.
As a result, two important pieces of information regarding Air India came to the fore. The first part is about the divestment of the national carrier. The divestment, which is the second attempt of the Narendra Modi government and has been delayed significantly since 2020, seems to have attained some momentum.
The government has said that the financial bids for Air India are likely to be received by September 15 and the request for proposal along with draft share purchase agreement were shared with qualified interested bidders on March 30 for submission of financial bids. Do remember that the government is selling 100 percent of its stake in Air India along with 100 percent stake in Air India Express Ltd and 50 percent stake in Air India SATS.
The second important piece of information is about the impact of the lawsuits filed by Cairn Energy and Devas Multimedia in the United States District Court for Southern District of New York (SDNY) seeking declaratory and a money judgement against Air India Limited as an alter ego of the Republic of India.
The government has clarified that there is no likely impact of the lawsuits on the ongoing disinvestment process of Air India Limited. As Air India is a separate corporate entity with its own management and board, the case is being defended by Air India and the airline has appointed lawyers to defend its interests.
At the headquarters of the aviation sector, the new man in charge has kicked off the week by forming three different committees to discuss issues related to airlines, airports, ground handling, maintenance and repair among others.
Interestingly, the group related to airlines’ issues constitutes a mix of promoters and CEOs. This includes IndiGo co-founder Rahul Bhatia, Ness Wadia from GoFirst, Bhaskar Bhat from Vistara, Ajay Singh from SpiceJet, Sunil Bhaskaran CEO of AirAsia India, Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal and Alliance Air CEO.
Similarly, the group related to airport issues constitutes AAI Chairman, GBS Raju from GMR Group, Jeet Adani from Adani Group, Hari K Marar from Bengaluru airport.
There is also a larger group and further sub-groups for maintenance, repair and overhaul, cargo, flight training organisation and ground handling. Union , Minister of State Genera VK Singh and senior government officials are leading all groups and two rounds of meetings have already taken place with the stakeholders.
As the air traffic levels continue to maintain an uncertain but dimly positive trajectory, it remains to be seen how the government helps the sector through these expert groups.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)