The country’s largest companies are in the running to buy Air India, a central government-owned airline. The salt group software giant Tata Group on Monday submitted an expression of interest to the government to buy debt-ridden Air India. The last date for bidding for Air India is December 14 and the government has not extended the deadline. As the bidding deadline for Air India expires on Monday, it is learned that Adani and Hinduja Group, in addition to the Tata Group, are showing interest in buying Air India.
The central government had in January this year invited bidders to sell its 100 per cent stake in Air India along with Air India Express Limited, a no-frills subsidiary, to Air India STS Airport Services Limited, a 50 per cent stake. The government has extended the intimation date for bidders for Air India to January 5, which was earlier till December 29. This is to announce the names of the shortlisted bidders.
Some media reports have claimed that the Tata Group will use its budget airline joint venture Air Asia to acquire Air India. It is also learned that Tata Group will increase its stake in Air Asia to 76 per cent by the end of 2020-21.
In the year 2018, no buyer came forward for an India. At that time, the government had decided to sell 76 per cent stake, but this time the government has talked of selling 100 per cent stake, so some companies are showing interest. It has a debt of Rs 23,286 crore on India.
It is also interesting to note that the Tata Group founded Air India in 1932 under the name Tata Airlines, but Air India was nationalized in 1953 and the Tata Group withdrew from it. After nationalization, the government renamed the airline Air India. As Air India is thus the baby born of the Tata Group, it is believed that once again Air India will be in the hands of the Tata Group. The Rs 8.34 lakh crore Tata Group has issued an expression of interest to buy Air India through Air Asia.
Air India, on the other hand, has formed a group of 209 employees and is preparing to bid for the national airline in partnership with a private financier. Each employee has been asked to raise Rs 1 lakh for bidding. The bidding process is being led by Air India Commercial Director Meenakshi Mallik on behalf of the employees.