Tata Sons submits EoI for Air India

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on December 14, 2020

Tata Sons, the holding arm of all Tata Group companies, has submitted an Expression of Interest (EoI) for the strategic disinvestment process of Air India.

The company filed the EoI before the 5.00 pm deadline for the submitting the EoIs, sources close to the development told BusinessLine.

Earlier in October 2019, a source close to the development had said that the Tatas were aviation pioneers and, for the group, the country’s aviation history is linked to its own. Further, with the company holding a stake in two carriers already, Air India will, if acquired, propel Tata Sons to the status of an aviation major.

Read the story: Air India divestment: Tata Sons back at the drawing board, may place bid soon

The Tata Group is believed to have submitted the EoI through Air Asia India, its airline joint venture in India. However, this could not be immediately ascertained.

The bid by Tatas came in after Tata Group, India’s largest business conglomerate, had exited aviation venture 67 years ago.

JRD Tata, the patriarch of the Tata Group, was the first person to be issued a pilot’s licence in India. In 1932, he set up an aviation department within the Tata Group, which later became Air India. On October 15, 1932, JRD Tata flew a Puss Moth aeroplane from Karachi to Mumbai, marking the first flight of Tata Air Services. Later, in 1953, the government nationalised Air India.

Tata Sons holds a 51 per cent stake in low-cost carrier AirAsia India; the balance stake is held by AirAsia Bhd. AirAsia India commenced operations in June 2014 with Bengaluru as its primary hub.

The Tatas also hold a 51 per cent stake in full-service carrier Vistara, with the remaining stake held by Singapore Airlines.

The Government was planning to sell its entire stake in Air India, Air India Express and 50 per cent stake in Air India SATS Airport Services, a joint venture with Singapore-based ground handling firm SATS.

Adani Group and Hinduja family are among others believed to be in the fray. However, with the time for submitting the EoIs yet to close, the names of other firms could not be immediately ascertained.

Published on December 14, 2020

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