By Sangeeta Saxena

Hyderabad 08 MARCH 2018. The Government is all set to start the process of disinvesting from its two civil aviation giant  holdings – the Air india and Pawan Hans. It is all set to issue the Expression of Interest for bidders for Air India call and  of rebids for Pawan Hans in the next two weeks And this information came from  RN Choubey, Secretary, Civil Aviation.

While speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Wings India 2018, the air show organised jointly by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Civil Aviation, Choubey stated that in six months time both the decisions wpuld have been taken as the process would begin in this Parliament session and some decision would have been taken in the next. “Our ministry is presently engaged in the important task of finding buyers for Air India, its subsidiaries and Pawan Hans. We are committed to take it forward very very fast,” he said.

He reiterated his MOS’s statement that that a private bidder will be allowed to pick up 51 per cent or more stake in Air India and a decision on whether there should be a 100 per cent stake sale of Air India is something on which the Alternate Mechanism of Ministers will have to take a call.

It may be recalled that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had given its approval for the strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries based on the recommendations of Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment on June 28, 2017.

When asked on the package sale he said all in good time will be told. It may be recalled that the government  had decided that the sale of Air India will involve its core aviation assets packaged with low-cost subsidiary Air India Express and AI-SATS, a groundhandling joint venture with Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS).

Not commenting the need of the rebid for Pawan hans disinvestment, it is an open secret that the government’s attempt to sell its entire 51 per cent stake in Pawan Hans has received a setback, with the deal failing to attract enough bidders. And so the announcement of the rebid in two weeks did not come a s a surprise. According to the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission, it is advisable that there should be a second bidding round if during the first call, a single bid is received.

It may be recalled that the government had invited bids from private companies, including foreign ones, to buy its stake, along with management control, in the helicopter service operator. While the last date for submitting expressions of interest (EoIs) was December 8, which was later extended till December 15.ONGC owns a 49 per cent stake in Pawan Hans.

So the next two weeks will be a period of expectancy both for the disinvestor and the prospective buyers of both the blue eyed companies of the Government of India’s Ministry of Civil aviation. Hope the change at the helm of affairs of the ministry doesn’t effect this move.