Israel's El Al appeals against Air India flights over Saudi

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In January, during a meeting of the panel, most members had sought the withdrawal of the draft report which said that it was not appropriate time to divest stake in Air India and that the airline should be given at least five years to revive. "The passengers were offloaded to carry out the security drills", Deputy Commissioner of Police Sanjay Bhatia said.

In his budget speech for 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said: "The government has also initiated the process of strategic disinvestment in 24 central public sector enterprises".

The complete information related to the process has been communicated to the prospective bidders.

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"The balance debt shall be allocated to Air India Asset Holding Limited which is 100 per cent owned by the Government of India subject to receipt of requisite approvals from lenders and regulators, as applicable", the memorandum said. The low cost global arm Air India Express would be put up for sale apart from the national carrier's stake in AISATS, an equal joint venture with Singapore-based SATS. El Al has stated that Air India had been prioritized, which violates the basic principles of fair competition.

Along with IndiGo, aviation industry majors SATS, Bird Group and Celebi have shown interest in buying Air India's ground handling unit. At the end of December 2017, Air India had an operating fleet of 115 aircraft while Air India Express had 23 planes. Though EY highlights the fact that, "37.6% of the permanent employees or almost 4,200 permanent employees will retire in the next five years", the sheer scale of integrating such a large workforce under new management is unlikely to go amiss by any potential buyer. The likes of Air India, BSNL, Scooters India and Hindustan Newsprint, on the other hand, must be treated the same way as Bhushan Steel, Binani Cement, Lanco Infratech or Alok Industries.

The airline is under a massive debt burden of over Rs. 50,000 crore.

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The government has stipulated a net worth criteria of INR 5,000 crore for parties interested in bidding for Air India and the bidders need to ensure that only Indian nationals will have the control of Air India.

A stake in Air India will also help any European airline take the fight back to their West Asian counterparts which have managed to capture a large chunk of West-bound traffic to and from India.

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