The small southeastern European state of Moldova has put the national carrier, Air Moldova, up for privatization. The airline is one of 12 state-owned enterprises that have been offered for sale.

The country’s Public Property Agency (PPA) is handling the round of privatizations. The deadline for bids is Sept. 4.

In a statement, the PPA said Air Moldova was being offered to investors “due to the need for private capital to modernize the air fleet, improve the quality of services provided and expand the range of services [as well as to] attract transit passengers.”

According to the airline website, the company operates a fleet of two Airbus A320s, two A319s and three Embraer E190s.

In a press conference announcing the state privatizations, PPA director-general Vladimir Baldovici, quoted by Moldovan news agency IPN, said Air Moldova would be offered for a price of 48 million lei ($2.9 million)

Questioned as to the seemingly modest price, Baldovici reportedly explained the airline had this year alone accumulated debts of 150 million lei, pushing its debt pile to 1.2 billion lei and the price took into account the fact that this would have to be cleared by a purchaser. If more than one potential buyer was interested in the carrier, the price paid could be higher than the initial one quoted.

He added that Air Moldova currently operated only three aircraft, with the remainder out on operational leases. He suggested that any buyer of Air Moldova could form an alliance with larger organizations to improve the airline’s level of service.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com