New Delhi: With the announcement sale of stakes in Air India on Monday, the government invited bids for a 100% stake in the airlines, aiming to finalise the sale of the loss making national carrier by the end of March, after having sweetened the deal by absorbing about two thirds of its debt. 

However, the control will be retained by a domestic entity as overseas investors can only acquire as much as 49% under the rules.

This is the second time in less than two years that the government has come out with proposal for selling stake in Air India, which has been in the red for long.

The government has set March 17 as the deadline for submitting the expression of interest (EoI).

AISATS is an equal joint venture between Air India and Singapore Airlines. It offers ground handling services.

Air India also has interests in Air India Engineering Services, Air India Air Transport Services, Airline Allied Services and Hotel Corporation of India.

These entities are in the process of being transferred to a separate company - Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL) and would not be a part of the proposed transaction, the document said.

According to the document, debt of Rs 23,286.5 crore would remain with Air India and Air India Express at the time of closing of the disinvestment.

The remaining debt would be allocated to AIAHL.

A person in the know of PIM details said staff would be given shares on discount under Employee Stock Option Programme (ESOP).

Air India staff will be offered 3% of the airline's total shares in the government's disinvestment process.