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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Maharaja to monetise realty, be back in black

Harinder Baweja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 16, 2012
First Published: 23:21 IST(16/10/2012) | Last Updated: 01:27 IST(17/10/2012)

Air India, the debt-ridden national carrier that needs to generate Rs. 5,000 crore over a 10-year period as part of the turnaround plan, has properties worth a staggering Rs. 8,500 crore — if not more.

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The government-owned airline has a spread of real estate housing colonies and offices, besides two stadiums. It has drawn up a list of 827 properties and is hiring a real-estate consultant to draw up a plan on how best to monetise these assets. Officials are now looking at how many of these are rented, leased and owned.

Many of the properties that served as ticketing offices were lying vacant in India as well as abroad, an official who is a part of the newly-created property division told HT on condition of anonymity.

The last time an evaluation was done was in 2007 — at the time of the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines. The value, which has gone up considerably in the last five years,  was assessed at Rs. 8,500 crore.

In 2007, AI could not find the lease documents of many properties that date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The airline, in fact, has lost a lot of money. Many of the offices that could have earned rent remain unused.

For example, 10 floors of the AI headquarters at Nariman Point, Mumbai’s commercial district, have been vacant for at least a year. Each floor, spread over 10,000 sq ft, could fetch close to Rs. 4 crore as rent annually, said an official.

Office rents in Mumbai are among the highest in the world. AI, buried under a mountain of debt, owns a hockey stadium in Chennai.

Part of its housing colony, the stadium, where its hockey team once used to practise, is now a playground for children as it doesn’t have an astro-turf.

The national carrier also has housing colonies and flats in Mumbai, Kolkata and Gurgaon. The consultants will tell AI which properties can be sold or leased.  


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