After it was reported that a panel of ministers accepted a recommendation from officials recommending Tata Sons ahead of SpiceJet Limited promoter Ajay Singh’s bid, the finance ministry confirmed on Friday that reports claiming Tata Sons had won the bid for Air India were incorrect.
“Media reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect,” the ministry said in a tweet. “Media will be informed of the Government decision as and when it is taken,” it said.
Bloomberg News earlier reported that Tata Sons have won the deb-laden national carrier and with this Air India will be again flying under the Tata Group after a gap of 68 years.
Another report also indicated that the Tatas have emerged as the top bidder but the formal announcement of this will only be made after the committee of ministers on Air India’s privatisation led by home minister Amit Shah meets and gives the final nod.
The airline was founded in 1932 and the official name of the airline was Tata Airlines. In 1946, the aviation division of Tata Sons was listed as Air India and, in 1948, the Air India International was launched with flights to Europe. In 1953, Air India was nationalised.
This time, the government is seeking to sell 100 percent of Air India’s stake, the process of which began in January 2020. The process was paused owing to the pandemic and was revived again in April 2021. September 15 was the last day for putting in financial bids.
As per the Air India EoI, the airline’s total debt of Rs. 60,074 crore as of March 31, 2019, the buyer would be required to absorb Rs. 23,286.5 crore. The rest would be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle. Air India has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007. The airline will give the successful bidder control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.