Tata takes back ownership of Air India after 69 years

The Indian government has handed over Air India (AI) to the Tata Group, marking the end of all the formalities to transfer the national carrier.

AI is the third airline under the Tata Group's umbrella.
AI is the third airline under the Tata Group's umbrella. Photo courtesy: Air India

"We are totally delighted to have Air India back at the Tata group and are committed to making this a world-class airline," Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran said. 

Chandrasekaran also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the official handover, the NDTV reported.

"The strategic disinvestment transaction of Air India successfully concluded today with transfer of 100 per cent shares of Air India to M/s Talace Pvt Ltd along with management control. A new Board, led by the Strategic Partner, takes charge of Air India," Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey said.

The airline began its journey under the Tatas 90 years ago before the government nationalised the sector in 1953. Its 100% stake was sold to the autos-to-steel Tata conglomerate for INR 18,000 crore. The Centre announced the sale on October 8.

Talace Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, gets 100% equity shares of AI and Air India Express. It will also get the government’s 50% stake in ground-handling company Air India SATS.

On October 8, the Tatas beat the INR 15,100-crore offer of a consortium SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh led and the reserve price of INR 12,906 crore set for the sale of 100% stake in the carrier.

The bid amount includes about INR 15,300 crore of the carrier’s INR 61,562 crore debt. The remaining will be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Limited, a special purpose vehicle formed by the government.

On October 11, a Letter of Intent was issued to the Tata Group confirming the government’s willingness to sell its 100% stake in the airline. On October 25, the Centre signed the share purchase agreement for this deal.

AI is the third airline under the Tata Group's umbrella. It holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines.