The government steps on gas for the sale of Air India

NEW DELHI: The government has stepped on gas for the divestment of Air india . The airline will establish a nodal cell before July 1 at its headquarters to facilitate interaction between several advisers appointed by the DIPAM (investment department and public asset management) to help AI in the divestment process.

An office order issued by Amnesty International last Friday (May 31) says: To advance the process of disinvestment of Air india , it has been decided to constitute a nodal cell in Airlines House (Delhi HQ)… (A) data room shall be… fully operational effective July 1, 2019… Aruna Gopalakrishnan , ED (corporate affairs), shall be the single-point nodal officer on behalf of AI to interact with the various advisers for the purpose of disinvestment of Al. Further, Uma Maheshwari, who recently retired as ED (IT), will assist Aruna Gopalakrishnan full time .

The NDA-1 PMO had called a meeting on AI and its subsidiaries’ strategic disinvestment on April 1, 2019. After this meeting, AI was asked to finalise FY 2018-19 accounts for the airline and its subsidiaries by June-end. These accounts will “form the basis of bidding” for divestment.

Air india , which has debtcum-liabilities of over Rs 55,000 crore, needs to pay back Rs 12,000 crore this fiscal to stay afloat. Aviation secretary P S Kharola wrote to AI chairman Ashwani Lohani on May 6, saying that in this meeting, held under chairmanship of principal secretary to the PM, it was “decided to speed up the process of disinvestment of AIATSL, AIESL and AASL.