The Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday sought to reassure that the process of disinvestment in Air India is expected to get completed by the end of 2021. According to Puri, the disinvestment process for the currently government-run airline got delayed due to the reemergence of Coronavirus in the country.
Earlier in March 2021, Hardeep Puri had said that Air India would be bought under a private player by the month of May or June this year.
“Air India is getting disinvested. It will take some time due to the pandemic. I want to assure you that it will happen this year,” the Union Minister said on Friday while talking to news agency ANI.
It may be noted that the ongoing second wave of Covid-19 infections has slowed down the government’s efforts of disinvestment of the cash-strapped Air India. Bidders for the airline have not been able to travel for a physical meeting due to travel restrictions imposed by state governments across the country. Reportedly, a physical meeting is an essential part of the overall disinvestment process.
Meanwhile, in a bid to placate the existing employees of Air India, Hardeep Puri also said that the interests of the existing staff of the airline would be protected once the disinvestment process starts.
Air India, currently a government of India owned enterprise, has been operating at a loss for many years now, forcing the government to give bailout packages. In the financial year 2020-21, the airline is estimated to have incurred losses of Rs 9,500 – Rs 10,000 crore. Earlier in the financial years of 2018-19 and 2019-20, the company reported a loss of Rs 8000 crore and Rs 8500 crore respectively.