India's National Airline 'Air India' Back in Founder Tata Sons' Hands After 68 Years

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Anna Zvereva / Air India, VT-EXG, Airbus A320-251NAir India, VT-EXG, Airbus A320-251N
Air India, VT-EXG, Airbus A320-251N - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.10.2021
The Indian government has been trying to sell its debt-ridden national airline Air India for the last few years. In 2018, it made an unsuccessful attempt to privatise the airline by promising a 76 percent share but the offer had no takers.
On Friday, Air India returned to its founders after 68 years as Indian multinational conglomerate Tata Sons won the government's privatisation auction.
The takeover announcement was made by Tuhin Kanta Pandey, the secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, the government body responsible for privatisation.
Tata Sons placed a winning bid of INR 180 billion ($2.4 billion). Of the total money, 15 percent will go to the government and the rest to clear the massive debt.
"The transaction is planned to be closed by December," said Pandey. He revealed that a group of ministers, comprising federal Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia cleared the winning bid for Air India on 4 October.
In this photograph taken on March 2, 2020, an Air India plane is parked at Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.08.2020
India's Top Business Group Tata Sons Plans to Purchase Ailing National Carrier Air India 
Air India operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft flying to over 100 domestic and international destinations.
Tata Sons now has control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at Indian airports along with 900 slots at overseas airports.
The Tata Group owns a majority stake in two other airlines, AirAsia India and Vistara.
Apart from the 100 percent stake in Air India and its low cost arm Air India Express, the winning bid also includes a 50 percent stake in ground handling company Air India Airport Services Private Limited.
Air India, which has the Maharaja as its mascot, was founded by Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata in 1932. It was originally called Tata Airlines.
In 1948, the Air India International was launched with flights to Europe – the service was among the first public-private partnerships in the country.
In 1953, control over the airline was handed over to the federal government, however, over seven decades debts piled up and unpaid staff frequently staged protests.
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