The Indian government has agreed in principle to increase the stake in Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) available for privatisation to 95%, The Business Standard has reported.

A committee led by Cabinet Secretary P. K. Sinha will present its report paving the way for a new privatisation attempt by the end of August 2019. Subject to approval by the appropriate ministerial commissions, the government will seek to almost fully divest from Air India.

The report foresees a call for Expressions of Interest in early October 2019.

The government plans to retain a 5% stake to maintain Air India's state-funded pension plans.

In 2018, the Indian government unsuccessfully tried to sell a 76% stake in Air India. No bidders emerged at that time.

Air India's current debt stands at around INR583.5 billion rupees (USD8.2 billion). According to provisional results, it lost INR73.6 billion rupees (USD1 billion) in the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2019.

The Mint has reported that Air India has also restarted a real estate sale drive with 60 properties put up for auctions. In the last fiscal year, the airline planned to earn INR5 billion rupees (USD70 million) from real estate sales but failed to reach this target; however, the actual proceeds earned were not disclosed. Most of the real estate earmarked for sale is residential. The auction will be managed by state-owned specialist MSTC Ltd.