New Delhi: The government has not received any bids so far for its stake in state-run carrier Air India, the civil aviation secretary told TV channels, a day before the formal bidding process closes.
The government will not extend the deadline for submissions of interest in Air India, R N Choubey said on Wednesday. The deadline for receiving bids has already been extended once to May 31 from May 14.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, keen to sell the loss-making, debt-ridden airline, finalised plans in late March to divest a 76 per cent stake and offload about USD 5.1 billion of its debt.
After the terms were disclosed, no company has come forward to say it is interested or to reaffirm previous interest, while Jet Airways and rival IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, have already publicly opted out of the race.
In April, sources told Reuters that India's steel-to-autos conglomerate Tata Group, widely seen as a potential suitor for Air India, is also unlikely to consider a bid for the state-run carrier as the government's terms are too onerous. Tata Group has not issued an official statement yet.
In its initial terms, the government said the winning bidder cannot merge the airline with existing businesses as long as the government holds a stake. The winner may also be required to list Air India and would need to abide by rules set to safeguard employee interests, restricting its ability to cut staff.
The civil aviation ministry had earlier made public 160 queries it had received from interested bidders seeking clarity on the initial terms. These were mainly about the impact of the government's decision to hold a 24 per cent stake, the make-up of the airline's debt and liabilities, its latest financial performance and workforce.