Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his Civil Aviation counterpart Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday discussed the future course for debt-ridden Air India, with senior officials indicating that a decision on privatisation will be taken within three months.
Staying afloat on little over Rs 30,000 crore bail-out package extended by the previous UPA regime, Air India is saddled with nearly Rs 50,000 crore debt and is in discussions with lenders on ways to restructure the loans.
"We have received the recommendations from NITI Aayog and we are examining it. At this stage, we are considering all options and we cannot say as to what will be the final decision.
"It will possibly take about three months to decide broadly how to proceed, which way to go, and so on," Choubey told reporters.
However, he did not disclose details about the NITI Aayog recommendations.
Since the merger of Indian Airlines with itself, Air India has been in the red. However, it posted an operational profit of Rs 105 crore on account of low fuel prices and increased passenger numbers in 2015-16.
On Wednesday, a top government official said the Cabinet is expected to take a decision on whether to privatise Air India, whose financial situation is "very bad".
Last week, Jaitley pitched for Air India's disinvestment saying the carrier's market share is just around 14 per cent whereas the debt burden is Rs 50,000 crore.
While discussions have gained momentum on the way forward for the ailing airline, the CBI has registered three FIRs and a preliminary enquiry (PE) to go into the controversial decisions made by the erstwhile UPA government with regard to Air India, including surrender of profitable routes to favour private carriers.