Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran officially expresses interest in buying Air India
Tata Sons CEO, N Chandrasekaran has officially remarked about the sale of the national carrier - Air India and Tata Group's interest in buying it.
- N Chandrasekaran was speaking in an interview when he remarked about the sale of Air India.
- The group is awaiting more details from the government on the disinvestment process.
- Seventeen years ago the group was also considering buying the airline back from the government.
N Chandrasekaran, Tata Sons Executive Chairman has officially remarked on the Tata Group interested in the disinvestment of Air India. The news which broke four months ago that Tatas may be looking to pilot Air India again was confirmed as the chairman said in an interview with CNBC-TV18 on Monday.
However, the group is awaiting more details from the government on the disinvestment process.
“We still don’t have all the details. Every business proposal will be very seriously looked at and we will look at that (Air India). Definitely. But currently we don’t have the data. There are so many different groups within Air India and then there is real estate, there is debt, there is liabilities and we got to look at all of that it but we will definitely look at it,” Chandrasekaran said.
He also spoke in reference to Vistara airlines run in alliance with Singapore Airline stating, the group could not remain with a “fleet of just over a dozen planes.” The Tata Group also owns AirAsia India.
“We need to look at aviation as a whole. We are subscale. We got two airlines both are subscale. Any decision that we take—Air India or otherwise—we have to have a story because we can’t be operating with 15 aircraft or 20 aircraft. I feel scale is important, in every industry in every group we operate in scale is important. Without scale you get to a situation where you are all over the place and it is very, very difficult to pay management attention," he added.
However the group has looked into the sale of Air India before as well.
In November, 2000, a Tata Sons press release said, "Singapore Airlines is a global player with impeccable credentials ... Its airline operating competency will be a significant asset to the consortium and will be critical in ensuring the success of Air India in the international market place."
Air India is currently reeling under a Rs 55,000 crore debt. As recently as August, the government had infused funds amounting to Rs 927 crore in the national carrier. The airline has been facing a cash crunch and its employees have reportedly suffered due to delayed salaries.
The aviation ministry has also expressed concerns over privatisation proposals stating the plan for revival of Air India would be taken up by the cabinet only after various issues, including the concerns raised by the parent ministry, are resolved.
The privatisation process was speculated to begin as early as December 2017.