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Options Open On Air India Proposed Disinvestment, Says Singapore Airlines

Options Open On Air India Proposed Disinvestment, Says Singapore Airlines”

Among the "disastrous decisions", Sen listed the "hasty merger" of Indian Airlines and Air India and "forcible procurement" of a huge fleet of aircraft from foreign companies through direct purchase at an in-opportune time thereby imposing on the company an "unbearable burden of indebtedness leading to loss". For instance, 49 per cent stake in Indian airlines such as Vistara and AirAsia India are owned by Singapore Airlines and AirAsia Berhad respectively.

Singapore Airlines has said it will keep options open on Air India stake after the government allowed foreign carriers to own up to 49 percent in the national carrier.

On whether it would be interested in Air India disinvestment, Emirates said it has no plans to buy or acquire any airline. In addition to this, Singapore Airlines group has significant number of flights connecting various Indian cities.

The cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its nod to several amendments in the FDI policy, including foreign investments in Air India under the approval route, which is subject to certain conditions. Doha-based Qatar Airways has long wanted to invest in IndiGo and more recently shown interest in having a domestic airline in India.

Low-priced carrier IndiGo has stated its intention to acquire Air India's global operations, while Vistara's interest has been widely reported.

According to the contour of the FDI policy, while the cabinet allowed foreign investors, including overseas airlines to own up stake in Air India, the national carrier's substantial ownership would continue to remain with an Indian national. "Foreign investment (s) in Air India, including that of foreign airlines, shall not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly", the government said in a statement. Vistara CEO Leslie Thng had last week said the airline's promoters had an open mind for AI if it made business sense.

Though there have been reports suggesting that Tatas and Singapore Airlines might jointly bid for Air India, there has been no official word from the government or the carriers concerned.

Under the SOEC clause, the new promoters of Air India will have to keep its chairman Indian and can not shift its operational headquarters to anywhere outside the country.



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