Tatas back in Air India cockpit

Maharaja comes home after 69 years

New Delhi: All Air India flights operating on January 28 announced the special welcome message to passengers that Air India has officially become a part of the Tata group again, after seven decades.

The Indian government on January 27 transferred its shares in Air India, along with control and management, to Tata Sons subsidiary, Talace. The airline has been a public sector undertaking since it was nationalized in 1953.

Tata Sons have paid R2700 crore in cash for the airline, along with taking on a debt of Rs15300 crore. The transaction between Tata and the government covers three entities — Air India, Air India Express, and the government’s entire 50 percent stake in a joint venture ground handling company called AI SATS.

“We are excited to have Air India back in the Tata Group and are committed to making this a world-class airline. I warmly welcome all the employees of Air India to our Group and look forward to working together,” Chairman, Tata Sons, N. Chandrasekaran said on Thursday. Chandrasekaran also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

In a statement, the Tata Group said that it philosophically agreed with the Prime Minister’s vision of making the aviation sector affordable.

Tatas will get Air India’s fleet of 141 planes, along with ownership of iconic Brands like Air India, Indian Airlines, and the Maharajah. As many as 13500 permanent and contractual employees will also move to the Tata fold and have to be retained at least for one year.

The airline was founded in 1932 by JRD Tata, who piloted the inaugural flight between Karachi and Bombay. It was then known as Tata Airlines. The government acquired a 49 percent stake in the carrier in 1948, followed by its nationalization in 1953. The airline was renamed Air India International, and domestic flights were transferred to Indian Airlines.

The Tata Group now owns three airlines – Vistara, AirAsia, and Air India with 24 percent of the market share in the aviation sector in India.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: BBC)

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