Air India Disinvestment: After years of waiting, who will finally take of Maharaja -- Air India? The Centre is expected to announce the name of the winning bidder for debt-laden national carrier Air India today.
According to the Hindu Businessline report, the Tata Group will get back the airline after a gap of 68 years, which it started and ran before it was nationalised.
A Committee of Ministers on the national carrier disinvestment headed by Home Minister Amit Shah has been vetting the bids based on recommendations given by a panel of Secretaries led by the Cabinet Secretary and will announce the winner.
Meanwhile, several media reports earlier claimed that Air India is likely to return to its founders However, the Union government denied the media reports, calling them incorrect.
“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,” DIPAM Secretary Tweeted earlier.
Earlier, the Centre evaluated financial bids received from Tata Group and SpiceJet founder for the acquisition of Air India.
The financial bids were evaluated against an undisclosed reserve price and the bid offering the highest price above that benchmark was be accepted.
This marks the return of Air India to Tata fold after 68 years. The Tata Group founded Air India as Tata Airlines in October 1932. The government nationalised the airline in 1953.
The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India's 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.
The stake sale process, which begun in January 2020, faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2021, the government asked potential bidders to put in financial bids. The last day for placing financial bids was September 15.
Tata Group was among the multiple entities that had put in an initial expression of interest (EoI) in December 2020 for buying the Maharaja.
Air India has been in losses ever since its merger with domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007. The airline, which was formed by the Tatas as a mail carrier in 1932, will give the successful bidder control of 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas. Besides, the bidder would get 100 per cent of the low-cost arm Air India Express and 50 per cent of AISATS, which provides cargo and ground handling services at major Indian airports.