India's Cabinet has approved a plan to sell a stake in the debt-ridden national airline, Air India.
Unions representing Air India's employees have been the fiercest opponents to the sale, with one demanding the government waive debts instead of offloading the airline to a private buyer.
And added, "I'm a strong advocate of privatisation because I'm convinced that Air India in its current avatar can neither survive nor be revived".
The cabinet will shortly consider a proposal to allow foreign airlines to pick up stakes in cash-strapped domestic carriers, local media reported on Monday, citing.
Air India Express, which started operations in 2005, has 545 weekly departures and flew 3.4 million passengers in 2016 -17. Earlier also, the Tatas had tried to acquire stake in Air India. "Every year's delay has only cost taxpayers money and eroded Air India's market value".
Niti Aayog vice chairperson Arvind Panagariya had conceded that nobody might really want to buy the airline unless the government wrote off its Rs 52,000 crore debt.
The committee will look at issues such as treatment of Air India's unsustainable debt, hiving off certain assets to a shell company, de-merger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries, the quantum of divestment and the universe of bidders. The low cost arm of state-owned Air India however saw its net profit fall from Rs361.68 crore in financial year ended March 2016.
It remains India's biggest worldwide carrier, flying to 41 destinations, and has just under a fifth of the market.