New Delhi– The Centre is likely to intimate the qualified bidders for national carrier Air India by the end of the month, as the evaluation of the expressions of interest (EoI) is still underway, official sources said.

The government was to intimate the bidders by January 5.

People in the know of the developments said that the transaction advisors are in touch with the interested bidders regarding several queries and the qualified bidders will be intimated only after the government is satisfied with the responses from the bidders.

The second phase of the strategic disinvestment of Air India was scheduled to start on January 5 with the announcement of the names of the qualified bidders.

Tata Sons and the New York-based Interups Inc backed by strategic NRI investors from the US and Europe are said to be the interested bidders for the national carrier.

DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey had earlier said that the government has received multiple expressions of interest for the strategic disinvestment of Air India.

The process has been divided into two stages. In stage I, expressions of interest have been submitted by the interested bidders and they will be shortlisted based on the eligibility criteria and other terms mentioned in the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM).

In stage II, the shortlisted interested bidders will be provided with a request for proposal (RFP) and thereafter there will be a transparent bidding process.

In view of the prevailing situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the last date for submission of EOIs was extended up to December 14, 2020.

The privatisation of the flag-bearer has already faced several hurdles with initial lack of interest for the airline.

Last month, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had said that in view of the post-Covid situation and the severe impact on the aviation sector, the government has considered various options related to disinvestment, including bidding parameters in the PIM, while meetings have been held regularly of the inter-ministerial group and the core group of secretaries on disinvestment to review the disinvestment process.

The interested bidders were asked to indicate their interest on the enterprise value of Air India.

The PIM for inviting EoI issued on January 27, 2020 had offered 100 per cent sale of equity share capital of Air India Ltd (AIL), sale of AIL’s 100 per cent shareholding in the Air India Express Ltd (AIXL) and sale of 50 per cent shareholding in Air India Airport Services Private Ltd (AISATS). (IANS)