Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Tata group sole contender for Air India; govt not willing to extend bid deadline

New Delhi: The Tata Group is the only and sole contender in the fray to buy for Air India from the Narendra Modi government, ET Now has learnt from reliable sources. So how serious is the Tata conglomerate about bringing the Maharaja back home? It founded the airline nearly 87 years ago.

Sources tell ET Now that the Tatas have engaged law firms to look into the potential deal, and are seriously evaluating the option with an open mind. The group representatives looking into the deal even held informal discussions with the government on the same. It is believed that the government finds Tatas to be a good match for the national carrier.

ET Now also learnt from highly placed sources that the government is not keen on extending the August 31 bidding deadline yet again. It has done so thrice already as a fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, Tatas' joint venture (JV) partner in Vistara --Singapore Airlines-- has, for now, declined to join the Tata bid. The decision has been communicated by Singapore Airlines.

This is indeed a twist in the Tata group's ambition to bring Air India back home. Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran has in the past, and on record, stated that the group "will not run a third airline unless we merge".

Before the pandemic, Tatas were looking to merge its other airlines, Air Asia with Air India Express. It could not be ascertained if that is still the gameplan. The group has a 51% stake in a JV with Malaysia's low-cost carrier AirAsia.
Air India disinvestment started on January 27, 2020. While issuing the Expression of Interest, the last date was kept at March 17, which was later extended to April 30, and again extended to June 30.
08/07/20 Nayantara Rai/ETNowNews
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