Govt to safeguard valid interests of employees

"Air India management has not offered their employees for voluntary buyouts", Air India Spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said.

"They have asked us how do you want to do it, what will you do with debt, what will happen to the subsidiaries", Livemint quoted a government official as saying.

Speaking on the rationale behind their pitch to acquire debt-ridden carrier, IndiGo owners Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal emphasized IndiGo's need for Air India's global operations to gain access to several restricted and closed overseas markets. The official said that the Tata executives were told that only the Group of Minister studying the airline's sale could answer their queries.

Lohani said despite the government's decision to privatise the airline, Air India would explore ways to increase its market share and addition of new destinations to its network would continue "unabated".

Early this month, the Cabinet had given an in-principle approval for stake sale of AI and a committee under Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is examining the details of stake sale.

Founded by J.R.D. Tata, Air India was born as Tata Airlines.

Asking the employees to be ready for the new work culture in a private set up, Lohani said "These are changing times and any change, despite being inevitable, is always hard to accept. Ownership changes that we expect at Air India would also lead to a change in the working environment and the work culture".

A few players have evinced interest in the debt-laden national carrier.

The group would look into the treatment of unsustainable debts of the national carrier, hiving off certain assets to a shell company and de-merger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries, among others.

According to a Tata group official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the group is 149 years old and owns brands like Jaguar Land Rover.

Vanessa Coleman