Rampant speculation on divestment of Air India
22 March 2018
While the civil aviation ministry remains tight-lipped about divestment in the Air India group, media speculation continues to be rampant with all kinds of theories being floated.
On Thursday, there were reports that the government was thinking in terms of conducting the strategic sale of its stake in the airline in phases. A day earlier, there were rumours about IndiGo and Qatar Airways planning a joint bid for Air India (See: IndiGo, Qatar Airways likely bid for Air India).
A report on Thursday, citing unnamed officials, said the exercise involving divestment in the parent body and its various subsidiaries would not be bunched.
Air India and its low-cost Air India Express will not be merged, but will be sold to a single buyer, the report quoted the officials. Other subsidiaries including Air India Air Transport Services, Air India Engineering Services, Airline Allied Services and Hotel Corporation of India will be sold separately, it claimed.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways also denied media reports that it was planning a joint bid with IndiGo for a stake in Air India. Media reports had on Wednesday speculated that the two airlines were likely to make a joint bid to acquire Air India.
“Qatar Airways firmly denies that it is involved in any talks regarding the acquisition of Air India,” said an airline statement.
IndiGo too denied the speculation. “While IndiGo normally does not respond to rumours, in this particular instance we would like to state that there are no ongoing discussions of this nature,” said the airline.
The divestment of the government’s stake in Air India has generated a lot of speculation in recent weeks. Domestic airlines, along with foreign partners, are keen to acquire some stake in the national airline.
They include the Singapore Airlines-Tata combine and a Jet Airways-led partnership including Air France-KLM and Delta.