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Choose right privatisation process for Air India: IATA chief

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Right privatisation process should be chosen for Air India to make it more competitive, IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac has said as he asserted that there is no need for the government to own stake in the carrier. Supporting the decision to sell stake in the debt-laden airline, he said the government has to find competitive conditions to give Air India the right weapons to compete against others. Air India is a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a grouping of more than 275 airlines worldwide. “We support privatisation of Air India. Then the company has to be privatised in revised conditions to be able to compete effectively,” de Juniac said.

As part of efforts to revive ailing Air India, the government is working out the modalities for its strategic disinvestment. The flagship carrier’s debt burden is more than INR 50,000 crore. While noting that there is strong competition in India, especially for long haul, the IATA director general and CEO said Air India should have the right weapons to compete.

In the context of Air India, de Juniac said the right process for privatisation has to be chosen. “There is no need for government to have any stake in its airline from my point of view,” he said in response to a query on whether there should be a partial or complete stake sale in Air India. For financial and other reasons, the privatisation process could also be done in two steps, Juniac noted. “The final target should be complete privatisation even if the process is done in one or two steps,” he said.

On the issue of overseas entities holding stakes in domestic carriers, de Juniac said that the IATA does not have a particular position on foreign ownership.

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