Disinvestment Saga Continues: Air Indias Flight From Pride To Billion Losses

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Disinvestment Saga Continues: Air India's Flight From Pride To Billion Losses

Back in the day, Air India was first owned by JRD Tata, who was also the first Indian to obtain a pilot license issued in India. The salt-to-steel, conglomerate, Tata Sons has likely won the bid for Air India.

Air India has suffered hefty losses after its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007-2008. In March 2020, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation and former four-star general in the Indian Army, VK Singh, said in the Rajya Sabha that the accumulative losses for Air India in the past decade were a massive ₹70,820 crores.

The primary reasons cited for the heavy losses were increased competition from low-cost carriers, a high-interest burden on debt and a high input cost. The Minister further added that the expected profits from the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines were not achieved, which adversely affected the finances of the national carrier.

A Brief History

The Tata Sons initially owned air India. In 1932, JRD Tata won Nevill Vintcent to carry the British mails from April 1932 to July 1932. Tata flew the first single-engine flight from Karachi (then a part of British India) to Bombay and then to Madras. The baggage symbol in 1932 was tagged as Tata Air Service. However, after nationalisation, the Indian government held a 49 per cent share in the airlines, whereas the Tatas continued to hold the rest 51 per cent. In 1978, former Prime Minister Moraji Desai fired JRD Tata as the Chairman of Air India. Once known for its supreme quality service, the airline carrier is dealing with significant financial crises in contemporary times.

Latest Developments With Air India

As reported by Bloomberg News, Tata Sons, which already owns Vistara Airlines and has a majority stake in Air Asia, is set to have Air India back in its kitty. The proceeds from this sale would benefit the widening budget deficit of the Indian economy that is already under the sun because of the global health pandemic. However, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management issued a statement stating that media reports regarding Air India disinvestment are 'incorrect'. The media, the government officials said, would be informed about the government decision as and when it is taken.

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