New Delhi: Tata Sons regained control of debt-laden Air India – 68 years years after its nationalisation – by making a winning bid of Rs 18,000 crore for acquiring 100 per cent shareholding. Tatas’ bid of Rs 18,000 crore comprises taking over of 15,300 crore of debt and paying the rest in cash.
Welcome back, Air India pic.twitter.com/euIREDIzkV
— Ratan N. Tata (@RNTata2000) October 8, 2021
Return of Air India to the Tatas after 68 years
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata founded the airline in 1932. It was called Tata Airlines then. It operated only domestic flights at that time.
In 1946, the aviation division of Tata Sons was listed as Air India. In the same year, the airline adopts its widely recognised `Maharaja` mascot. In 1948, Air India International was launched with flights to Europe.
The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. In 1953, Air India was nationalised and was split into two – a domestic airline and an international carrier. When the Jawaharlal Nehru nationalised Air India, JRD fought vehemently against it.
“It is said that Tata group executives used to complain in private that JRD — the pioneer of the Indian aviation industry — spent more time worrying about Air India than the Tata group when he was heading both the entities. Nevertheless, they also knew heading Air India as Chairman was never just a job but was a labour of love to him,” PTI reported on the founder’s passion for Air India.
“Considering the respect for legacy that the group has, it is therefore not a surprise that the Tatas shelled out so much (Rs 18,000 crore) to take back Air India. This is a group that didn’t mind investing Rs 2 lakh back then in 1932 to start Tata Aviation Service, the precursor of Tata Airlines and Air India. From the first airmail service flight from Karachi to Bombay in October 1932 with JRD steering a Puss Moth aircraft to wresting control of Air India 89 years later, the conglomerate has had a roller coaster ride in the Indian civil aviation history,” writes the news agency.