Air India Takeover: The Tata Group is likely to start the process of the takeover of Air India on Thursday. The Ratan Tata-owned business conglomerate, which won bids to acquire Tata last year, will start marking its first footsteps at the erstwhile national carrier again from Thursday, January 27, according to reports. This will mark the start of Maharaja’s return to its Bombay home after a gap of 69 years.
According to media reports, authorities at Air India had in a letter on Monday, January 24, confirmed the divestment date.
“Air India disinvestment has been decided to take place on January 27 2022. Closing balance sheet on January 20 is to be provided today, January 24 so that it can be reviewed by Tata & any changes can be made on Wednesday,” said Vinod Hejmadi, director finance, Air India in an email to employees, as per a tweet by news agency ANI.
The Tata Group is likely to introduce “enhanced meal service” on four flights that will operate from Mumbai, said officials in the know.
The Air India flights will however not fly under the banner of the Tata Group from Thursday, officials told news agency PTI. The Tata Group will see the divestment process of Air India on the day, nearly seven decades after it was taken from the conglomerate and nationalised.
However, while the “enhanced meal service” will be provided on four flights — AI864 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI687 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI945 (Mumbai-Abu Dhabi) and AI639 (Mumbai-Bengaluru) — on Thursday, the takeover will take place after Thursday, the officials clarified, as per the PTI report. The date from which the carriers will fly under the Tata banner will be announced later, the officials said.
Three days after Air India’s sale was announced on October 8 last year, a Letter of Intent (LoI) was issued to the Tata Group confirming the government’s willingness to sell its 100 percent stake in the airline. On October 25, the Centre signed the share purchase agreement (SPA) for this deal. Officials said on Wednesday that the airline will most likely be handed over to the conglomerate on Thursday as all the formalities are close to completion.
As a part of the deal, the Tata group will also be handed over Air India Express and a 50 percent stake in ground handling arm Air India SATS. Tatas had on October 8 beat the Rs 15,100-crore offer by a consortium led by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh and the reserve price of Rs 12,906 crore set by the government for the sale of its 100 percent stake in the loss-making carrier.
While this will be the Centre’s first privatisation since 2003-04, Air India will be the third airline brand in the Tatas’ stable as it holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd.