"Something has to be done on the debt issue.Whether the government writes off part of the debt, or not", Panagariya said, elaborating on the crucial issues involved in the divestment. The four options in front of the government are 1) whether to privatise the airline or not, 2) if the airline is to be privatised then will the bid be open to national buyers or global buyers, 3) should the government maintain a stake in the ownership of the airline and 4) will Air India's debt be cleared after the airline is privatised. "Whether even foreign buyers can bid", he said.
CITU said the Air India management should not be held responsible for "bungling and disastrous experiments by successive governments" which had left the national carrier, which was registering profits till 2007, debt-burden. On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Ministry said all possible alternatives are being considered to make Air India viable, even as it asserted that the clock can not be put back on the Indian Airlines merger.
"We have received the recommendations from NITI Aayog and we are examining it".
Alternatively, it could also result in a much lower valuation for Air India when it comes to actual sale. At this stage, we are considering all options and we can not say as to what will be the final decision.
"We are considering all possible alternatives (for Air India)".
His remarks came amid protests by Air India employees against the government's proposal. The state-run carrier has a debt of around Rs 50,000 crore and has reported a loss of about Rs 3,587 crore in 2015-2016.
While discussions have gained momentum on the way forward for the ailing airline, the CBI has registered three FIRs and a preliminary enquiry (PE) to go into the controversial decisions made by the erstwhile UPA government with regard to Air India, including surrender of profitable routes to favour private carriers.