Mumbai: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday said that Air India's "operations haven't been managed properly" and therefore, it should be handed over to another player, who must be Indian.
"Air India should be handed over to anyone who can run it efficiently... The new operator must be an Indian player," Bhagwat said.
Bhagwat, however, also cautioned the Central Government against "losing control and ownership of its skies" by selling stake in Air India.
He pointed out that nowhere in world had any country allowed a stake of more than 49 per cent to foreign investors in aviation and specifically mentioned Germany, where foreign ownership is capped at 29 per cent.
On Air India's valuation, the RSS chief said one should not look only at the tangible assets and get bogged down by the accumulated losses of Rs 55,000 crore, but also look at aspects like landing rights in 30 global airports and availability of trained manpower.
"One has to view Air India's losses in contrast to the assets it has. Air India's operations haven't been managed properly," Bhagwat said.
The central government has invited "Expression of Interest" to off-load 76 per cent stake and management control of the airline.
On March 28, the government issued the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) for a strategic divestment of Air India, along with the airline's shares in AIXL (Air India Express) and AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services).
The Central Government owns 100 per cent equity of Air India. In turn, the airline has a cent per cent stake in Air India Express, while it holds 50 per cent stake in the joint venture AISATS.
Accordingly, it has been planned to divest 76 per cent government stake in Air India, 100 per cent in AIXL and 50 per cent in AISATS.