New Delhi, May 30:  Civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said on Wednesday that the government has not received any bids so far for its stake in state-run carrier Air India. He said while speaking to the TV channels. The formal bidding process closes tomorrow. RN Choubey also said that the government will not extend the deadline for submissions of interest in Air India. The deadline for receiving bids has already been extended once to May 31 from May 14.

Last week, Choubey had said, “The government has the right to sell or not to sale Air India if the bid price is found to be inadequate.”  He had also said that the highest bidder for the airline would be known by the end of August. But the highest bidder may not be the successful bidder, he said, adding the government intends to complete the disinvestment process by this year-end.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, keen to sell the loss-making, debt-ridden airline, finalised plans in late March to divest a 76% stake and offload about $5.1 billion of its debt. (ALSO READ: Ernst & Young India Appointed as Transaction Advisor For Air India Disinvestment)

Recently, IndiGo had pulled out of the race to acquire debt-stricken Air India, as the budget carrier was interested in buying the international operations and Air Express and not the entire company as one package. IndiGo was the only airline that had officially expressed an interest to buy the state-owned carrier which is facing the brunt of government’s disinvestment plans. It was earlier communicated that different units of Air India will be hived off and sold separately. But in the latest memorandum, the government has expressed it will be sold as one unit.

The government had on March 28 kicked off the disinvestment process of the debt-laden national carrier with the issue of the preliminary information memorandum for the proposed sale of up to 76 percent stake in it along with management control to private entities. The government also made it clear that it would have the rights of a “minority shareholder” with 24 percent stake in Air India post disinvestment.

The debt-laden carrier, which is staying afloat on taxpayers’ money, would be put up for sale as “four different entities”, while private players can have at least 51 per cent stake in the airline.

The airline has already received more than Rs 26,000 crore under the package. For 2018-19, the carrier has been allocated Rs 650 crore in the Union Budget.

In June 2017, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its in-principle nod to the strategic disinvestment of the airline — which has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore.

“The government has also initiated the process of strategic disinvestment in 24 CPSEs (Central Public Sector Enterprises). This includes strategic privatisation of Air India,” Jaitley had said in his Budget speech on Thursday.

(With agencies inputs)