In a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation clarified that it will go ahead with the disinvestment process of Air India on recommendations of the Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM).
"In an AISAM Meeting held on 28th March 2018, which is last year, it was decided that due to issues like volatile crude oil prices & adverse fluctuations in exchange rates, the atmosphere was not conducive for the disinvestment. But this was last year," the statement said.
"However, continued support from the govt had resulted in improvement of financial & operational performance of Air India. As per the recommendations of AISAM, the govt will now go ahead with the process of disinvestment of the company," it added.
AISAM is a group of ministers constituted by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs at its 28 June meeting after the CCEA approved the consideration for strategic disinvestment of Air India & its five subsidiaries.
The group will be reconstituted to replace Arun Jaitley and Suresh Prabhu, who are no longer ministers in Narendra Modi's cabinet in his second term as the Prime Minister. They will be replaced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is likely to continue in the panel, PTI reported.
Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for a strategic disinvestment of Air India were invited by the Central Government on 28 March 2018. However, in a written response to the Lok Sabha, Puri said that "no EOI/bid was received till the last date of receipt of bids i.e May 31, 2018."
He further said that the state-run airline had a total debt of Rs 58,351 crore as on 31 March 2019.