Strongly opposing the Centre's plans to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today demanded an immediate withdrawal of the order. "It's like the government wants to sell its old vehicle, but still wants to drive it every Sunday", the late Saumitra Chaudhuri, a member of India's erstwhile Planning Commission, once told me.
Perhaps the easiest to handle in terms of staffing related issues would be Air India SATS Airport Services Ltd.
With its biggest hubs in Dehli and Mumbai, the combined Air India/Air India Express group operated 138 aircraft at the end of 2017, split evenly between Boeing and Airbus Types. Though the encouraging sign is that Air India's employee cost as a percentage of revenue is only 12%, one of the lowest amongst worldwide airlines like Singapore Airlines (15%), British Airways (21%) and Cathay Pacific (20%).
Each member of the consortium has to hold at least 20 per cent share in the consortium and at least 20 per cent equity share capital of the company (special objective vehicle) promoted by the members of the consortium for acquiring the government stake being disinvested.
However, Indigo's state-owned rival has a 16.9 percent share of the worldwide travel market in India.
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The proposed sale will also include a 100 percent stake in Air India's low-priced arm - Air India Express, and a 50 percent stake in its ground-handling arm - SATS Airport Services. They were the front-runners in a previous privatization drive, which was abandoned at the last minute.
India's biggest airline, IndiGo, has expressed unsolicited interest in. Qatar Air has denied a news report of a joint bid with IndiGo. For the same reasons, nationalism and security, Singapore Airlines has a better chance than any Chinese suitor.
Once the ESOP pool is created for its employees, the government stake may fall below 20 percent, Sinha said, adding that the move would give employees a chance to take part in the future growth of Air India.
In addition, Air India Air Transport Services, Air India Engineering Services and Alliance Air will each form separate entities. That's encouraging, and might help ensure this isn't one deal that fizzles out for want of interest.