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Air India

Air India needs “rethink” after sale failure

Aviation and finance experts say that weighty conditions from the government put off possible buyers.

After failing to attract any buyers for a controlling stake in national carrier Air India, the Indian government admits it needs to “rethink” its strategy, the BBC reports.

“We were looking forward to better participation,” Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey said when a deadline for expressions of interest in a 76% stake passed silently.

Aviation and finance experts say that weighty conditions from the government put off possible buyers, not least having to take on the airline’s massive workforce of 27,000 employees.

Valued brand
A buyer would have also had to endure the government continuing to hold a 24% stake, and to abide by a set of guidelines securing employees’ interests that have not yet been detailed.

This insistence by the Indian state, which partly comes from Air India being such a valued brand and national symbol in India, is counter-intuitive for any business that needs a free hand in turning around operations at the loss-making airline, experts say.

The buyer would also have to take on around $5 billion in debt; the carrier has not posted a profit since 2007.

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