India's Minister of State for Aviation says Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) has thus far attracted a single serious bid from an unspecified foreign carrier.

Taking into consideration an expression of interest in Air India's longhaul operations from IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi Int'l) parent InterGlobe Aviation, Jayant Sinha told CNBC India on February 2 that he expected to have the selection process completed by June of this year. Thereafter, the winning bidder may require an additional 4-5 months to get clearances, and thus bring an end to the process.

Under revised legislation, foreign carriers will be allowed to control 49% of Air India's share capital with the remaining 51% to remain in the hands of an Indian national/entity. Concerning interest in other parts of Air India Ltd, Turkey’s Çelebi Aviation Holding, and India’s Bird Group and Livewel Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd have shown interest in its groundhandling and MRO units.

As previously reported, Air India Ltd. is being spun off into a set of four separate entities; the first consisting of Air India and its Air India Express (IX, Mumbai Int'l) budget unit, the second entailing Alliance Air (India) while the third and fourth will consist of groundhandling firm Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL) and MRO unit Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL) respectively. Fixed assets such as Air India’s Nariman Point headquarters in Mumbai and hotels will be placed in a separate unit which will fall under government supervision. This unit will also house the carrier's legacy debts.

Sinha also noted that the privatization of state-owned helicopter firm Pawan Hans Helicopters (Delhi Int'l) is moving along faster than that of Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l). New Delhi put its entire 51% stake in the rotary-winged specialist up for sale in October last year. The Minister said he expects bids to be submitted shortly.