Historic landing: After 69 years, Air India returns to the home of Tatas


Air India was officially handed over in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

Tata Group expected to make big changes with maximum emphasis given to ensure that all Air India aircraft fly on time; Changes also in seating arrangements and the dress of the cabin crew

Our Bureau
New Delhi/Mumbai

After 69 years of its nationalization Air India on Thursday formally became part of Tata Group, its founder. The government formally handed over the airline to Tata Group at a ceremony held in the national capital.

“The Air India strategic disinvestment transaction has been completed today with Government receiving a consideration of Rs 2,700 crore from the Strategic Partner (M/s Talace Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of M/s Tata Sons Pvt Ltd), retaining debt of Rs 15,300 crore in Air India and AIXL and transferring shares of Air India (100 per cent shares of Air India and its subsidiary AIXL and 50 per cent shares of AISATS) to the Strategic Partner,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement. In a separate statement, Tata Group said it has taken over management and control of airline from today.

“Tata Group takes over management and control of the airline, starting today,” the statement said. Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran along with other senior officials of the company attended the handing over ceremony.

Talking to reporters after the handover ceremony Chandrasekaran said, “We are happy that Air India is back with Tata Group. We look forward to working with everyone in creating a world-class airline.”

Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey said all the disinvestment formalities have been completed and shares of Air India have been transferred to Tata Group. “As we speak, they (Tata Group) are the new owners,” Pandey told reporters.

Before the formal handing over ceremony, Chandrasekaran met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We are excited to have Air India back in the Tata Group and are committed to making this a world-class airline. I warmly welcome all the employees of Air India, to our Group, and look forward to working together,” Chandrasekaran said in a statement.

The Tata Group would like to acknowledge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to reforms and faith in India’s entrepreneurship spirit, which made this historic transition possible. Our Prime Minister has in action demonstrated what his commitment to ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ means, Tata Sons statement said.

Chairman of Tata Sons N Chandrasekaran called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of official handover of Air India to Tata Group in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

“We philosophically agree with the Prime Minister’s vision for the aviation sector, of making it affordable and ensuring it contributes to boosting ‘Ease of Living’ for citizens,” it added.

The transaction covers three entities – Air India, Air India Express and AI SATS. Air India is India’s flag carrier and premier full-service airline. Air India Express is a low-cost carrier. AI SATS provides a comprehensive suite of ground handling and cargo handling services.

Last year, Talace Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Pvt Ltd, won the bid to acquire 100 per cent equity shareholding of Government of India in Air India along with equity shareholding of Air India in AIXL and Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited for Rs 18,000 crore.

“It is pertinent to mention that following the Government’s approval of the highest price bid of M/s Talace Pvt Ltd for strategic disinvestment of Air India, the Letter of Intent was issued to the winning bidder on October 11, 2021. The Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) was signed on October 25, 2021,” the Finance Ministry statement said.

“Thereafter, Strategic Partner (M/s Talace Pvt Ltd), Air India and the Government worked towards satisfying a set of conditions precedent defined in the SPA including approvals from anti-trust bodies, regulators, lenders, third parties, etc. These conditions have since been met to mutual satisfaction,” the ministry added.

Now, Tata will make big changes after the formal handover of Air India. The maximum emphasis will be given to ensure that all Air India aircraft fly on time. Tata Group has also planned several other changes. There will be changes in seating arrangements and also the dress of the cabin crew. Tata is a leading player in the hotel business and it will give top priority to improve the quality of food in the airline, sources said.

According to an Air India official, a recorded message of Ratan Tata will be played out on board in all Air India aircraft.

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