SATS Evinces Buying Air India’s Ground Handling Unit


Aviation industry major SATS has evinced interest in buying Air India’s ground handling unit, Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey said on Tuesday.

Choubey disclosed this on the sidelines of an event on the second round of bidding of air regional connectivity — Udan scheme — that aims to connect unserved and under-served airports.

SATS is said to be interested in Air India’s standalone ground-handling services. The company already has a JV (joint venture) with Air India — AISATS — that operates out of five airports at Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram.

Earlier, aviation industry major Bird Group and Celebi have shown similar interest in buying out the Air India Air Transport Service Ltd (AIATSL).

However, any decision to sell Air India’s subsidiaries together or separately will be taken by the government, Choubey said.

Currently, a ministerial group — Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism — headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is looking into the modalities to divest loss making Air India.

The group has been formed to look into the modalities of Air India’s divestment process. It has been mandated to decide on key issues such as treatment of Air India’s debt and hiving-off of its assets.

The airline, which is under massive debt burden of Rs 50,000 crore, had posted an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16.

For the last fiscal (2016-17), the company was expected to report an improved operating profit margin.

The national flag carrier in April 12, 2012, got a new lease of life when the then UPA government had approved a Rs 30,000-crore turnaround and financial restructuring plans package spanning up to 2021.

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