Tata Sons has won a bid to acquire India’s debt-stricken national carrier Air India for 180 billion rupees (2.4 billion dollars), the government announced on Friday.
The conglomerate gained control of the airline some 70 years after the government took over the airline from the group under its nationalization programme.
Air India was founded in 1932 as Tata Airlines by family scion and Indian aviation pioneer Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata.
“Tata Sons’, their SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) Talace Private Limited is a winning bidder at 180 billion rupees,” Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) told reporters.
“Welcome Back, Air India,” Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata tweeted.
“On an emotional note, Air India under the leadership of Mr JRD Tata had, at one time, gained the reputation of being one of the most prestigious airlines in the world. Tatas will have the opportunity of regaining the image and reputation it enjoyed in earlier years. Mr JRD Tata would have been overjoyed if he was in our midst today,” he added.
The government had kicked off the process of divestment of Air India in December 2020. In all, four bidders entered the race, with the Tatas and Ajay Singh from domestic budget airline SpiceJet making it to the final stages, domestic media reported.
Air India has accumulated losses of over 700 billion rupees and the government loses 200 million rupees everyday, officials said.
The sale of Air India is touted as one of the major reforms by the Narendra Modi government. A previous invitation for bids in 2018 had found no takers.