Tata group takes control of Air India after 70 years - GulfToday

Tata group takes control of Air India after 70 years


Tata Sons, India's oldest and largest conglomerate, took control of state-run carrier Air India on Thursday, finalising a $2.4 billion deal to regain ownership of the airline after nearly 70 years.

Tata pioneered commercial aviation in India when it launched the airline in 1932. It was taken over by the government in 1953.

Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday ahead of a meeting with Air India officials. In October, Tata's Rs180 billion ($2.4 billion) bid for the carrier prevailed over a smaller bid by India SpiceJet chief Ajay Singh.

“We are delighted that this process is complete. Happy to have Air India back and we hope to create a world-class airline,″ Chandrasekaran told reporters.
Tata will absorb Rs153 billion ($2 billion) of the airline’s more than Rs615 billion ($8.2 billion) debt burden, a government statement said.

It takes control over a fleet of 121 Air India aircraft and 25 planes of its subsidiary Air India Express, which operates low-cost flights to more than 30 destinations in India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

As part of its economic reform agenda, the Modi government has pledged to sell more than a dozen loss-making government-run companies. An initial sale attempt by the government in 2018 failed to attract any bidders for Air India.

The Tata group is a sprawling collection of nearly 100 companies that includes the country’s largest automaker, the largest private steel company and a leading outsourcing firm. The companies employ more than 350,000 people around the world. Tata bought Jaguar and Land Rover for $2.3 billion from Ford in June 2008.

Tata also runs a budget airline, Air Asia India, in cooperation with Malaysian carrier Air Asia Berhad, and a full-service carrier, Vistara, with Singapore Airlines.

Air India serves 101 destinations including 57 domestic routes and has flights to 33 countries on four continents.

Associated Press

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