Tata Sons chairman to meet PM before Air India handover
Tata Sons chairperson N Chandrasekaran will reportedly meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, shortly before the official handover of Air India to the conglomerate. Board members of the debt-ridden national airline are expected to resign the same day and nominees from Tata would replace them, reports said. The deal to privatize Air India had been finalized late last year.
- The central government, under different political alliances, had been trying to privatize Air India since 2001.
- In October, Centre announced that Tata's bid to buy the airline for Rs. 18,000 crore had been successful.
- Air India now returns to Tata after 69 years of government control.
- It was set up as "Tata Airlines" in 1932, and the government took hold of it in 1953.
The Tata Group is currently in talks to appoint an expatriate from the global aviation industry as the new chief executive of Air India. Further, the merger of Air India Express and Air Asia India will begin next week, according to CNBC-TV18. The Centre and Tata Group have already signed crucial documents such as a Letter of Intent and a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA).
In its bid to acquire the historic airline, Tata had beaten the Rs. 15,100-crore offer from a consortium led by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh. The government had fixed a reserve price of Rs. 12,906 crore for the sale of its 100% stake in Air India.
Reportedly, Air India controls 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at Indian airports along with 900 such slots in foreign countries. Under the deal, the Tata Group will also be handed over Air India Express and a 50% stake in the ground handling arm Air India SATS. After the formalities, Air India will become the third airline brand under the Tatas.
In its first move related to Air India's operations since the takeover, the Tata Group has introduced an "enhanced meal service" in four flights that will operate from Mumbai. The flights in question are AI864 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI687 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI945 (Mumbai-Abu Dhabi), and AI639 (Mumbai-Bengaluru).