As a first step in the process of Air India takeover, the Tatas introduced an “enhanced meal service” in four flights operating from Mumbai on Thursday. The central government had, earlier this week, said that it aims to complete the disinvestment process on January 27.
Although the Air India flights will not be flying under the Tatas’ banner just yet, it is an important declaration of the airline’s handover to the autos-to-steel conglomerate nearly 70 years after it was taken.
The “enhanced meal service” will be provided on four flights – AI864 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI687 (Mumbai-Delhi), AI945 (Mumbai-Abu Dhabi) and AI639 (Mumbai-Bengaluru) – scheduled for today.
It will be served on the AI191 (Mumbai-Newark) flight and five Mumbai-Delhi flights on Friday and will be expanded to more flights in a staggered and phased manner.
Meanwhile, the takeover is expected to take place on Thursday, as reported by Hindustan Times earlier.
Following a competitive bidding process, the government had on October 8 last year sold Air India to Talace Private Limited – a subsidiary of the Tata Group’s holding company – for ₹18,000 crore.
The national carrier began its journey under the Tatas 90 years ago before the government nationalised the sector in 1953.
Talace Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, will get 100% equity shares of AI and AI Express, along with the government’s 50% stake in ground-handling company Airport Services Private Limited (AISATS).
This is the first privatisation of an airline since 2003-04.
At the same time, with the takeover, Air India will become the third airline brand in the Tatas’ stable, making it a dominant player at No. 2 spot in the domestic market after IndiGo. The Tata Group already holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd.