India’s salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group is looking to buy stake in the beleaguered state-owned airline Air India, which it had once owned. Due to mounting losses, the Indian government is planning to privatize the airline.
Tatas and three other conglomerates were interested in buying the airline. Tata Group is in talks with top ministers at the Central Government in this regard, reports News18.com. However, Tata Group spokesperson refused to comment on the issue, reports Business Standard.
If Tatas acquire Air India, it would provide the struggling airline a new lease of life. Tatas might also try to rope in its existing joint venture partner Singapore Airlines to buy a stake in Air India, Business Standard added.
The Tatas currently run two joint venture airlines AirAsia India and Vistara, but both have low key presence in the Indian market. Being late entrants, both carriers face slot constraints and pilot shortage.
On the other hand, Air India is an established brand and has the third largest share in domestic market and good presence in international market with prime slots in domestic and international airports. This makes it attractive for potential suitors.
The Tatas were instrumental in bringing commercial aviation to India. In 1932 it began the first air mail service and soon started passenger services under the name Tata Airlines. After Independence, the government bought 49% stake in Air India in 1948, and nationalized the carrier in 1953.