MIAMI – The long-awaited sale of flag carrier Air India (AI) is finally entering its final stage with firm bids placed by the Tata Sons groups earlier today.

The deadline for the sale of AI has been postponed several times because of COVID but India’s new Civil Aviation minister made it clear that September 15 will be the final deadline.

Air India has received financial bids for its disinvestment process, the Finance Ministry said. “Financial bids for Air India disinvestment received by Transaction Adviser. The process now moves to conclude stage,” stated Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), Tuhin Kanta Pandey.

With hopes and expectations that AI’s future might lean towards the TATA groups, it’s actually a reconnection to the airline’s past as Air India was actually started by JRD Tata, the then chairman of the airline. In 1932, it was initially called Tata Airline which later got the name Air India when the government stepped in in 1946.

The TATA group is also the majority holder of Indian premium airline Vistara (UK). An AI employee on hearing the latest news stated, “AI is saved, it goes back to its owner.”

What’s In the Air India Package?

The airline has a debt of ₹43,000 of which ₹22,000 will be transferred to the Air India Asset Holding Limited (AIAHL).

The government plans to sell a complete 100% stake in the airline and its low-cost arm Air India Express (IX). A part of the sale is also a 50% stake in ground handling company Air India SATS.

The airline holds over 4,000 domestic landing and parking slots. Numerous prime slots across major European (LHR, CDG, FRA, etc) and American airports (EWR, JFK, SFO, ORD), as well as a bunch of morning slots at Mumbai’s (BOM) packed airport, are a big win for its new owners.

The AI fleet is comprised of 123 aircraft in total as of September 15, 2021, including A319, A320, A321 ceo/neo from the airbus and 787-8, 747-400, 777-200LR, 777-300ER from Boeing.

It’s also been reported that bidding competitor Spicejet (SG) has also submitted a bid. However, Singh did not respond to messages on confirmation on the matter.

Featured image: AI 787-8 | Julian Schöpfer/Airways