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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Pilots plan Air India bid
Air India aircraft
Bidders for Air India are stacking up
By business correspondent Theo Leggett

India's international flag carrier, Air India, has no shortage of suitors - and now its own pilots have shown an interest in buying in to the company.

As part of its major disinvestment programme, the government is to sell a substantial stake in the company, which ran up substantial losses during the 1990s.

The Indian Government has decided to divest 60% percent of the airline of which 40% would be offered to strategic investors, with the possibility of a foreign airline becoming involved.

The remainder will go to financial institutions and employees.

Three major consortia have already shown their interest:

  • India's giant Tata group and Singapore Airlines
  • British Airways and India's private domestic airline Jet
  • French carrier Air France and Delta airlines of the US.

Now, the India Pilots Guild, which represents Air India's pilots, says it is looking for an Indian partner and hopes to bid for a stake in the firm.

Air India airhostess
Jobs will be protected if the bid succeeds
"Basically, we believe that there is no requirement for disinvestment of the company," said Captain KR Singh general secretary of the Guild.

"And we feel that we ourselves and possibly with some strategic partner can turn around the company."

Mr Singh, however, declined to divulge any details about the prospective partners or the size of the finances that would be required to acquire a stake in the company.

He said that among other things, their intention was to protect the 18,000 jobs which they fear could be endangered if foreign firms become involved in Air India's management.

The pilots were apparently inspired by a similar successful move by pilots of US carrier, United.

Mr Singh said: "If the American pilots can run an airline then we can also do it."

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See also:

28 Sep 00 | Business
Take-off for Air India bids
26 May 00 | South Asia
Privatisation plans for Air India
10 Jul 00 | Business
Virgin and BA eye Air India
01 Jun 00 | South Asia
Air India hunts for partners
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