Tata Sons was selected as the winning bidder for India’s flag carrier, ending decades of attempts to privatise a money-losing and debt-laden airline, and potentially ending years of taxpayer bailouts that’s kept the company alive.
Tata Sons, which originally launched Air India with a namesake branding in 1932, was the highest bidder in a government auction, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, the top bureaucrat at India’s Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, said at a briefing Friday. Tata Sons bid 180 billion rupees ($2.4bn) as an enterprise value for Air India, Mr Pandey told reporters in New Delhi.
The high-profile sale is a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has embarked on a bold privatisation plan to plug a widening budget deficit, validating his stand of the state staying away from most businesses.
For Tata Sons, Air India adds a third airline brand to its stable, and gives it access to more than a hundred planes, thousands of trained pilots and crew, and lucrative landing and parking slots all around the world.