An Air India jet taxis on the runway at London’s Heathrow International Airport. (Photographer: Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg News)

Jet Airways' Goyal Says Air India Privatization on His Radar

(Bloomberg) -- Jet Airways India Ltd. is not ruling out looking at the sale of loss-making national carrier Air India Ltd., its chairman said, although he remains focused on his own airline.

"We are looking at our own business,” Naresh Goyal said in an interview in Manchester, England. “But I am not saying that we will not look at Air India, I’ve never said that. Ultimately we will always see what is the best approach ahead of us, and for the country.”

Jet Airways’s comments come after IndiGo, the only airline to have publicly shown interest in buying parts of Air India, said it’s no longer keen on the airline, which has been put on the block after a taxpayer-funded bailout failed to stem losses. A successful conclusion is crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cement his credentials as a proponent of free markets.

Goyal said the plan to privatize Air India is “a brave and very good decision” for India, predicting that the process will ultimately prove successful.

The government proposes to sell 76 percent of Air India and 100 percent of Air India Express, the overseas budget unit -- all to the same buyer. It also plans to sell half of the ground-handling subsidiary separately. Singapore Airlines Ltd. and India’s Tata Group, which run a joint venture called Vistara, have said they are open to a deal for Air India but haven’t elaborated.

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