An Air India Ltd. aircraft prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Not A Good Time To Sell Or List Air India, Says Piyush Goyal

Having failed to draw a single bid for debt-ridden Air India, India said it’s an inappropriate time to list or sell the carrier and the government is looking at ways to make it profitable.

“We will try to make Air India more profitable on its own; then it will become more attractive for divestment,” said Piyush Goyal, who holds the additional charge of the finance ministry, apart from railways and coal ministries.

“Some aspects of the divestment plan can be taken forward like hiving off some assets, and shifting some assets into a special purpose vehicle,” he said on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi today. “Let’s do all of that first.”

No airline or investor bid for the carrier in what was billed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most high-profile divestment plans. The government had offered 76 percent in Air India along with full control of its low-cost arm Air India Express and 50 percent in the ground handling unit. A potential buyer also had to take on nearly half of its Rs 54,000-crore debt.

A senior government official had told BloombergQuint that it’s also open to the idea of an initial public offering for the carrier.

Also Read: What Works (And Doesn’t) For An Air India IPO

Goyal, however, said it’s not an appropriate time for that. “We are going to meet the Group of Ministers soon to discuss ways to make Air India profitable,” he said.

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