State-owned Air India is drawing up a compensation plan to offer in a voluntary retirement of a third of its 40,000 employees, ahead of its privatization next year.
The carrier likewise scrapped its April decision to lease eight Boeing 787 wide-body aircraft after putting fleet expansion on hold, an unnamed company official said.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet last month approved plans to privatize the loss-making flag carrier — either in parts or lock, stock and barrel — ending decades of state support.
The central government in 2012 injected $5.8 billion in bailout support to keep the airline flying amidst its $8.5 billion debt (SR31.88 billion) and bloated cost structure.
Founded in the 1930s, Air India has been unprofitable since its 2007 merger with then-domestic carrier Indian Airlines.
It made an operating profit of about one billion rupees in its financial year to March 16, thanks to oil prices, but still posted a net loss of 38.4 billion rupees.
Once the country’s major aviation player, Air India has lost market share to better-run private airlines such as IndiGo, whose share of the market in January stood at 39.8 percent; and Jet Airways with a share of 15.5 percent.
Nothing has been finalized but our aim is to make the strategic sale as simple as we can, said a second airline official said, and added that any fresh investments would be put on hold.