The government has extended the bidding deadline for Air India by two months till June 30, for the second time due to the disruption caused to the global economic activity and the aviation sector amid the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on the issuing of the extended deadline of Air India, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) on Tuesday said, the deadline has been extended in view of the “request received from the IBs (interested bidders) in view of the prevailing situation arising out of Covid-19”.

The process of selling the government’s full stake in the National Carrier was initiated on January 27. Earlier in March, consultancy firm Deloitte had begun due diligence on a proposed bid by Vistara.

A Preliminary Information Memorandum was issued in late January, where the Government had stated that Air India’s brand name would have to be kept as it is by the future owner.

While issuing the EoI in January, the last date for bids was kept for March 17, which was later extended to April 30. This has now been further extended until June 30.

Further, the date for intimation to qualified interested bidders (QIB) has been extended by two months till July 14.

“Further changes with respect to the ‘important dates’, if any, will be communicated to the interested bidders subsequently,” divestment department said in a notice issued on 28th April.

Incidentally, earlier in February, Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri had assured that Air India’s disinvestment will see no further hiccups. However, this assurance now seems to have been short-sighted.

Amid the pandemic, the aviation sector has been hit hard. Many countries have announced lockdown leading to airlines cancelling international flights and announcing pay cuts for employees.