Government undecided on date of Air India IPO: civil aviation secretary

The current market turmoil seems to be playing in the minds of civil aviation officials as well, as they refused to put a date to the proposed public issue of the National Aviation Company of India Ltd., which had been created after the August 2007 merger of the state-owned domestic and international carriers Indian Airlines and Air India respectively.

The civil aviation ministry secretary, Ashok Chawla, said on the sidelines of the Airport & Airline 2008 Expo, which started today at New Delhi, the performance of Air India would determine the timing of the IPO, which would come at an appropriate time.

Chawla expressed the hope that the current turbulence in the share markets and global economies would have subsided by then.

The government had earlier said it would sell up to 15 per cent of Air India and use the funds for expansion, although Chawla refused to put a figure to the amount the government expected to raise from the market in the future public issue. The merger of the two airlines was initiated in August 2007 and the Government had indicated a timeframe of 12 to18 months for its completion.

Before the merger, the domestic flyer Indian Airlines had been in the black while the foreign-flying Air India suffered a loss of Rs.448 crores last year. This was as per a statement made by civil aviation minister Praful Patel in Parliament on 3 March.

The combined fleet of 112 planes today fly on the Air India brand and has an impressive order book of 111 Boeing and Airbus planes.