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Govt to fully exit Air India, will bite the bullet on carrier's debt: Aviation minister Puri

Updated : January 10, 2020 06:31 AM IST

While the first attempt to divest Air India might have been a damp squib, the government is confident that the efforts to sell the national carrier will be successful this time, says Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Puri said the government was willing to bite the bullet on the carrier, which currently has around Rs 60,000 crore debt, to make it an attractive buy.

"There is nothing like failure to teach you a few lessons. I wouldn't use the word failure but that was an effort that took place at a politically not a very propitious time. You were short of the election by a year-and-half, plus it is a mindset issue. We wanted to hang on to Air India, if possible hang on to it 100 percent, and that is why we are in this situation," he said.

Puri believes that the government should not be running airlines. "If I am not able to hang on to Air India as per the mindset, let me hang on to 26 percent or whatever. One of the professional evaluations is that you need a helpful external environment. Don't look at the privatisation programme from the point of view of what you are interested in, look at it from the point of view of the guy who wants to come in. If somebody is going to bid seriously, then that entity will be making the evaluation and that is a transition we have completed commendably and today we are ready to let go 100 percent," the minister observed.
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