Tata group submits an expression of interest for Air India
Nearly 67 years after its exit, the Tata group again wants to pilot Air India.
Sources told The Telegraph the salt-to-software conglomerate had submitted an expression of interest for the troubled airline. It is learnt the $106-billion group is going solo and not through any of its two other aviation ventures — Vistara or Air Asia.
A company spokesperson declined to comment.
Apart from the Tata group, a section of Air India employees along with Interups Inc, an US-based fund, have filed expressions of interest (EoIs).
While there is speculation of bids by the Adanis and the Hinduja group, this could not be confirmed. The deadline for the submission of EoIs ended at 5pm on Monday.
In January this year, the government had invited bids to sell 100 per cent of its holding in Air India and its international arm Air India Express and 50 per cent in ground handling joint venture Air India SATS Airport Services.
Of the airline’s total debt of Rs 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs 23,286.50 crore, while the rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle.
The interested entities will have to submit their actual bids within 15 days. The Centre had said it will intimate the qualified interested bidders of Air India on January 5, 2021.
Tata Sons had set up Tata Airlines in 1932 with J.R.D. Tata himself flying a Puss Moth aeroplane from Karachi to Mumbai. It was later renamed Air India in 1946.
Later in 1953, the government nationalised Air India. In the 90s, the group tried to launch an airline in partnership with Singapore Airlines, but the plan did not succeed.
In 2013, after the Centre changed the FDI norms in the industry the group launched two airlines — Air Asia India and Vistara with Air Asia of Malaysia and Singapore Airlines, respectively.
Air India had a market share of 9.4 per cent in October. The market share of Air Asia India was 7.1 per cent and Vistara, 6.4 per cent.