Published on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Air India sell-off expected by end of 2018

India expects to wrap up the sell-off of state run carrier Air India by the close of the year.

Aviation minister Jayant Sinha said two definite expressions of interest have been lodged and a buyer will be selected by the summer.

"We expect to have a winning bidder by the end of June and the legal closing of this transaction by end of this calendar year," Sinha said.

However the Indian government still hasn't decided whether to retain a minority stake in the ailing airline.

A group of ministers led by finance minister Arun Jaitley will soon make a decision on that.

Either way, the government will formally hand over control of the aieline by the year-end as long as a deal goes through smoothly.

The Air India group of companies is being carved up into four entities and sold off separately.

This includes Air India's main domestic and international operations including budget arm Air India Express, and the airlines ground handling and engineering divisions.

Air India has a fleet of about 140 planes but only has a domestic market share of about 13%, way behind market leader IndiGo, which has shown interest in bidding for Air India.

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