Bird Group keen on buying Air India subsidiary

Bird Group keen on buying Air India subsidiary

Bird Group has expressed interest in picking up stake in the troubled national carrier-Air India.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the Group of Ministers that is overseeing Air India's divestment, said they will make speedy decisions on the liquidation process.

Earlier, IndiGo said that it is interested in buying Air India's global operations. In FY16 Air India reported a net loss of Rs 3,643 crore.

The Group plans to put in the bid through its company which does ground handling activities and is looking at bidding for Air India's ground handling activities as a part of its normal growth. It does ground handling at seven airports - Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Cochin, (concessioner at these four private airports) Ahmedabad, Goa and Gaya. The company is headquartered in New Delhi, and does ground handling at major Indian airports. It handles 700+ global and domestic flights per month at Delhi and Cochin.

Currently, Air India's portfolio of subsidiaries include Air India Engineering Services, Air India Transport Services, Alliance Air, Air India Express and the Hotel Corporation of India. It also has a ground handling joint venture AISATS.

With a pan-India presence, AIATSL is already the market leader in ground handling. It has not turned profit in 10 years, since at least the year 2007.

The national carrier is expected to report an operating profit of close to Rs 300 crore for FY17, up from Rs 105 crore in 2015-16.

Aviation secretary R.N. Chaubey says this is the second formal interest for Air India we have received.

When asked if foreign airlines are indeed barred from AI stake sale, Choubey said no FDI was allowed into the airline "as of now".

If the government were to indeed bar foreign airlines' participation in the disinvestment process for Air India, then it can immediately rule out participation of its favourite bidder, the Tatas.

In an unrelated development, "Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism" is slated to meet later in the evening on Wednesday.

"We are waiting for the disinvestment structure from the government". "This is one of the proposal made by the committee of secretaries", he said.



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