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Kolkata: The government should quit trying to revive Air India by seeking to privatise the national carrier, Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee said days after the Centre invited bids to sell its 100% stake in the debt-ridden airline.

“A lot of bailout theories and stories were experimented with to revive Air India, but it has failed every time,” he said. “It would be wrong to be optimistic when the current total debt is more than Rs 60,000 crore.”

“I personally feel that if the government doesn’t find any takers — the airline should be closed immediately and it should sell the planes and properties to utilise for the development of the poor in our country,” he added.

Asked about the relevance of a national carrier, Banerjee said the imperative of having a national carrier is passé now, adding that many countries, like the United States, do not have one.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday released the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM)for the airline’s disinvestment.

The deadline for submission of the expression of interest by potential buyers is March 17. As per the preliminary bid document, Air India would also sell its 100% stake in Air India Express and a 50% share in joint venture Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited.

The ministry had made a similar bailout attempt in 2018 (then the proposal was to offload 76% equity share capital), but there were no bidders.

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