Tata Group shows an interest in buying a stake in debt-laden Air India

Tata Group shows an interest in buying a stake in debt-laden Air India

New Delhi,June22: Tata Group has shown an interest in buying a stake in debt-laden Air India amid the government looking at various options, including full or partial privatisation, to revive the national carrier, Press Trust of India reported citing sources. Staying afloat on taxpayers’ money, the airline has been in the red for long and various proposals, including government think-tank Niti Aayog’s suggestion for complete privatisation, have been made.

There was no official word from the government but sources said the Civil Aviation Ministry is keen on retaining the national carrier status of Air India.

Tatas had no comment. “We do not comment on such matters,” a spokesperson at Tata Group said in an emailed statement.

One scenario being discussed is that the government would retain 51 per cent stake and the rest 49 per cent could be sold to private players, which could include foreign players. The government is also looking at various options such as selling off non-core assets to reduce the airline’s debt burden.

For Tatas, it would be more of a home coming. Air India traces its roots to Tata Airlines, which was formed back in 1932. Set up by Tatas, the carrier was made a public company and was rechristened as Air India. Later, it was nationalised. Currently, Air India has a debt of more than Rs. 52,000 crore.

Recently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the aviation ministry has to explore all possibilities “as to how the privatisation of Air India can be done”.

Tatas already have two airline joint ventures — Vistara and AirAsia India.

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