NEW DELHI: The government on Friday denied media reports claiming that Tata Sons have won the bid to acquire debt-laden carrier Air India.
It said the bids are being evaluated and the decision is yet to be taken.
“Media reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect. Media will be informed of the Government decision as and when it is taken,” Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) secretary clarified on Twitter.
Earlier, Bloomberg had reported that Tatas have been selected by the government panel as the winning bidders for Air India.
was among the multiple entities that had put in an initial expression of interest in December 2020 for buying the Maharaja. SpiceJet founder Ajay Singh was also among the bidders.
Air India has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007.
Tatas will now get control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas.
Multiple governments have tried to sell the airline — which began life as Tata Airlines in 1932 — but those attempts were either met with political opposition or a lack of interest from potential buyers.
For Tata Sons, the recommendation means it’s coming back to an asset it started almost 90 years ago.
The airline was established by legendary industrialist and philanthropist JRD Tata, who was India’s first licensed pilot.
It originally flew mail in the 1930s between Karachi in the then-undivided, British-ruled India and Bombay, now known as Mumbai.
Once it turned commercial and went public in the 1940s, Air India quickly became popular with those who could afford to take to the skies.
However, with the advent of private carriers in the 1990s, and then a rush of low-cost, no-frills airlines in the mid-2000s, Air India lost its edge in both domestic and international markets.
Suddenly, it wasn’t the only option for flying overseas and its reputation for impeccable service and hospitality began to ebb.
Losses started to mount after its merger with state-owned domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007 and by 2013, the country’s then-civil aviation minister said privatisation was key to its survival.