New Delhi (Bloomberg): Indian officials met with as many as nine companies during roadshows to gauge interest in a stake sale in the nation’s loss-making flag carrier.
Executives of companies including British Airways parent IAG SA, IndiGo, India’s biggest airline that’s operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., SpiceJet Ltd. as well as Tata Sons Ltd. are among the nine.
A successful sale of Air India Ltd. after a failed attempt in 2018 is crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help bridge a widening fiscal deficit exacerbated by dismal tax collections and a $20 billion corporate tax cut. Air India hasn’t made money since 2007. The airline posted a loss of $1.2 billion last year - its highest ever - and has $8.4 billion in total debt.
Despite the losses, the airline has some lucrative assets which include prized slots at London’s choked Heathrow airport, a fleet of more than 100 planes and thousands of trained pilots and crew. The government is taking on most of the airline’s debt, leaving any potential buyer to take over $3.26 billion of liabilities only linked to plane purchases, according to bidding documents released on Monday.
The airline will have to shut down if it can’t find a buyer, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Indian parliament in November.