Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha on Friday said the government was well on track to complete the stake sale process in Air India by the end of this calendar year as was decided earlier.
"Our timelines are very clear and our goal is to award it (Air India) by the end of June and to have the whole transaction closed and done and transfer of airline to the private sector by the end of this calendar year. Those are the DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) timelines," the minister said when asked if the privatisation of Air India was passible this year owing to the ongoing delay in issuance of expression of interest (EoI).
Explaining as to what were the reasons behind the delay in issuance of EoI, Minister Sinha stated that there were a number of important issues that they had to sort through and also got approvals from the Alternative Mechanism that was chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. "As soon as we have the go ahead from the alternative mechanism the EoI will be issued," the minister added.
Responding to a question on recent grounding of three A 320 Neo airplanes by IndiGo due to problems with Pratt and Whitney's new engines, the Minister said the Ministry has been working very closely with the safety regulators around the world to decide on what is the best course of action for the Pratt & Whitney new engine.
According to Sinha, the ministry have put in place an appropriate measures for the engines in question and these measures were consistent with practices elsewhere around the world. These measures include regular inspections as well as de-pairing of the engine so that those engines are only allowed one at a time at an airplane.
Disagreeing with the notion that the progress on the regional air connectivity scheme or UDAN(Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) was slow, the Minister of Civil Aviation said now they have 20 airports that are operational where UDAN flight are operating. " Of course, we are adding airports every day. Under UDAN 2 we added additional 30 airports and 31 helipads and we are working very very quickly to make them operational."
On Assam government's proposal for using Guwahati airport to run the international flights to Southeast Asia under UDAN scheme, the minister stated that many states have come to the Ministry with different versions of UDAN and those are being looked into.
Commenting on Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju's resignation, they very much miss the Minister as he was a tremendous source of inspiration, guidance and leadership. " We have benefited greatly from his leadership for over the last three and a half years in the Ministry of Civil Aviation," he added.