Air India stake sale: Govt on 'wait and watch' mode for next three-four months, says union minister Nitin Gadkari

New Delhi: The government has decided to "wait and watch" for the next three-four months before taking a call on disinvestment of national carrier Air India due to prevalent market condition especially high fuel prices, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday.

The government's proposed stake sale in Air India failed to attract any initial bidder when the deadline for bidding ended on 31 May.

"Market condition is not right for Air India disinvestment now. In view of this we are keeping a wait and watch policy for the next three to four months," Gadkari, who holds multiple portfolios such as road, transport, highways, shipping and water resources, told PTI here.

 Air India stake sale: Govt on wait and watch mode for next three-four months, says union minister Nitin Gadkari

Representational image. Reuters

The minister said given the high fuel prices at present, the viability of the move will be judged before going ahead with the disinvestment process.

Under the Air India disinvestment plans, the government was to sell 76 percent stake in the national carrier along with complete divestment of low-cost arm Air India Express and a 50 percent stake in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd -- an equal joint venture with Singapore-based SATS.

Earlier, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had said the government was committed to strategic disinvestment of Air India. "What the modalities are, what the circumstances are, we have to monitor and evaluate as we go along," he had said.

At the end of March 2017, the carrier had a debt burden of around Rs 48,877 crore. Of the total amount, Rs 17,360 crore was related to aircraft and Rs 31,517 crore pertained to working capital loans.

In May, Air India's market share stood at 12.8 percent.

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Updated Date: Jul 04, 2018 17:55:35 IST