N Chandrasekaran, chairman of one of the leading corporate houses of the country – Tata Group – has held informal talks with the government, expressing an interest in buying India’s national carrier – Air India – in partnership with Singapore airlines, according to Financial Express.
Times of India reported that the Tata Group is interested in buying a controlling stake in Air India with 51% equity. Recently, finance minister Arun Jaitley and civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati have both spoken openly about this. Though the government is keen on retaining Air India as a domestic air lines, it is happy about the proposal.
The heavily debt-laden carrier has had no profit for the past ten years. The main reason behind Air India’s loss is the intense competition from the more efficient and cheaper private airlines. Presently Air India is reeling under a debt of rupees fifty thousand crore, of which rupees twenty-eight thousand crore is in capital debt and rupees four thousand crore in interest burden. While the Tata Group is concerned about the huge debt, they are also considering the 14% market share commanded by the airlines. Apart from that, government has also assured Tata Group that it will bring down the debt substantially to make the air line a lucrative one.
Tata chairman Ratan Tata had said in 2013 that the group would “be happy to look” after Air India as and when privatisation happens. So, this can be a home coming for Air India, as it was launched and owned by the group since 1932 before being nationalised in 1953.