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Open to further revise terms of AI sale: HS Puri

Open to further revise terms of AI sale: HS Puri
NEW DELHI: Having sweetened the terms of Air India (AI) sale in its second divestment attempt in as many years, the government is still open to further revising the clauses with qualified bidders to ensure the Maharaja ownership changes hands this time. At the same time, it insists AI is not overstaffed and that the new owner will need the highly-trained employees.

“We held eight road shows to showcase AI. We took lessons from the earlier attempt and took suggestions during the road shows. Last time (in 2018) AI could not be sold off as that process happened too close to a general election and buyers may not be too comfortable taking over a big PSU at such a time,” aviation minister H S Puri said on Monday.

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“AI will get bridge funding till the divestment process is complete. We are open to revising (the final terms) to take the process forward,” said Puri. He assured that “interests of employees will be protected by the government. They need continued medical care and support. We are working out ways to ensure that even after AI divestment goes through.”

“Air India is not overstaffed and the new owner will need the employees it has.” AI chairman Ashwani Lohani asserted this on Monday as the airline has not hired any permanent employee from 2012 despite adding aircraft and flights since then. AI-AI Express-AI-SATS being divested have about 30,000 employees.AI and AI Express have 17,984 employees, of whom 9,617 are permanent employees. 36% of permanent employees will be retiring in next five years. AI-SATS has about 12,000 contractual employees.