The government has denied media reports that the Tata Group has won the bid for Air India. Bloomberg had reported earlier that Tata Group had won the bid for Air India more than half a century after it ceded control of the national carrier to the government. “Media reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect,” the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management said in a tweet.
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. pic.twitter.com/PVMgJdDixS— Secretary, DIPAM (@SecyDIPAM) October 1, 2021
Tata Group and SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh in his private capacity had bid for debt-laden state-run airline Air India earlier this month. In December 2020, the government had invited expression of interest for the divestment of Air India. Four bidders had entered the race to take over the beleaguered airline, but Tata Group and Spicejet CEO Ajay Singh were the only ones to make it to the final stage.
This has been the second attempt by the PM Modi-led government to sell Air India. The centre had made an unsuccessful attempt to sell the ailing airline earlier in March 2018. However, its expression of interest to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India had no takers at that juncture due to concerns regarding the airline’s burgeoning debt.
Air India has accumulated losses of over Rs 70,000 crore and the government loses nearly Rs 20 crore to run the national carrier every day, according to reports. The beleaguered airline, which one ruled the India skies, began to lose ground with the advent of private carriers in the 1990s and the emergence of no-frill airlines in the mid-2000s. The merger with the state-owned domestic airline Indian Airlines in 2007 proved to be the final nail in the coffin, for Air India.
But despite its precarious finances, Air India still controls more than 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, and 900 slots overseas.