Etihad and IndiGo 'among airlines eyeing Air India stake'

Ailing flag carrier is looking to sell 100% stake but has struggled to find substantial interest from investors
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Air India

IndiGo and Etihad are the latest airlines said to be considering bids for a stake in ailing national flag carrier Air India.

A senior Indian government official told the Economic Times that India’s largest airline by market share and the Abu Dhabi-based carrier have shown an ‘unofficial interest’, meeting with government officials.

The official said: “Representatives from these companies have met government officials and, unofficially, shown interest in the national carrier.”

India’s government tried to sell a 76% stake in Air India in 2018 but did not receive a single bid. It is now offering 100% of the loss-making business, as well as 100% of its regional arm and a 50% stake in its ground handling division.

Expressions of Interest documents are expected to be released later this month.

But under foreign direct investment rules, Etihad will be unable to bid for more than 49% of Air India unless it can find a partner. IndiGo is free to make a bid for 100% of the business.

Indian behemoth Tata, which already owns Vistara and Air Asia, is widely thought to have been considering buying Air India.

A government official told ET: “The Tata Group, however, has not shown any interest yet.”

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