Indian gov't seeks EOIs for 76% stake in Air India Ltd.

Govt plans to sell 76% stake in Air India, cede management control

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Israel's national airline, El Al, for fears it will financially suffer from what it calls "aerial discrimination", filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the government, the Civil Aviation Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, finally, Air India.

The proposed sale will also include a 100 percent stake in Air India's low-priced arm - Air India Express, and a 50 percent stake in its ground-handling arm - SATS Airport Services. Government of India (GoI) owns 100 per cent equity of Air India.

As per the advertisement issued by the Government, the companies or consortium will be eligible to bid only if their net worth crosses Rs 5,000 crore. "Slots can be utilized to take benefit of India's favorable geographic position in global air travel market and develop hub for worldwide operations".

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The government hopes the sale will be finalized by the end of September and buyers will have to keep the Air India brand for an unspecified period and retain employees for at least a year.

"However, if the member of the consortium is a scheduled airline operator in India, the condition to meet positive profit after tax shall not apply to such member provided shareholding of such member is restricted to maximum of 51 per cent of paid up equity share capital of the consortium (special objective vehicle)".

Till now budget passenger carrier IndiGo has evinced interest in buying the airline's worldwide operations and its subsidiary Air India Express.

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In 2017, Indian government gave in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of the debt-laden national carrier to private players. Singapore Airlines has also said the company has an open mind about making an initial bid. The majority of the members, in favour of selling the government's stake in Air India, were from the ruling BJP.

". There will be some time for those parties who are interested, they will go through the document and come out with the expression of interest", he said.

The Israeli government has lauded Air India's new direct New Delhi - Tel Aviv route, which has been permitted to traverse the Saudi Arabian airspace.

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