A crucial issue in disinvestment of Air India is whether the government is willing to write off at least a part of the national carrier's massive accumulated debt, the Niti Aayog said on Friday.
"Air India has a debt of Rs.52,000 crore, settling which will be a very difficult affair," Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya told reporters here, while briefing about the work of the government think-tank since it was set up in 2014.
"Something has to be done on the debt issue…Whether the government writes off part of the debt, or not," Panagariya said, elaborating on the crucial issues involved in the divestment.
"The government needs to resolve four big issues in Air India's strategic disinvestment…Whether or not to privatise, and if yes, then what is the universe of potential buyers… Whether even foreign buyers can bid," he said.
Besides the huge debt, Panagariya said the government also would need to consider whether to retain some stake in Air India since it is the national carrier.
In a recent report to the Civil Aviation Ministry, the NITI Aayog has recommended strategic disinvestment from the loss-making Air India, by which government control would be transferred to a private owner.