Our Bureau

Kolkata, Nov. 14

THE Union Civil Aviation Ministry is likely to finalise the advisor for the proposed divestment and initial public offering of Indian Airlines in the next few days.

This was announced by Mr Praful Patel, Union Civil Aviation Minister, on Monday.

He told presspersons that the proposed public issue of both Indian Airlines and Air India would be made next year.

Merill Lynch has been appointed for working out the valuation of Air India.

The global financial powerhouse will also prepare a roadmap for its divestment.

On the stake that will be divested from Indian Airlines or Air India, Mr Patel said nothing had been finalised.

According to him, protests from the trade unions will not be considered if a proposal for the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India come up in the future.

"Globally, there is an integration going on. Several airliners are consolidating.

The writing is on the wall. Indian Airlines and Air India may have to merge, but certainly not now," Mr Patel said.

As a first step, more synergy between the two organisations are being worked out and this exercise will be further hastened once the fleet acquisition is over.

Thereafter, the phase of integration and consolidation will begin.

Mr Patel reaffirmed that Air India Express, the budget airliner, would start operations in 2006 and that Kolkata would be a major hub for destinations in South-East Asia.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 15, 2005)
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