The talks in aviation circles are getting louder that the Tata group may take over Air India as early as January 2021, if it becomes the sole eligible bidder for the national airline. If Tata submits its bid on or before August 31, it is likely to be the sole eligible bidder for acquiring Air India. Once the Tata bid is accepted, the 90-day period for handover would begin and end latest by December 31. In that case, Tata would take control of Air India by January 1, 2021, itself.
The Tata group, which has made a mark in the airlines business for years, is now interested in acquiring Air India, which was under the Tata umbrella at one point of time. The group already has an airline venture in Vistara and it is not yet clear if it will combine Vistara, Air Asia and the possible acquisition of Air India. From Tata Airlines to AirAsia India, the Tata group has been a crucial part of the growing aviation sector in the country.
Tata is widely believed to emerge as the sole bidder for Air India and the company is likely to place a bid before August 31 itself. The government has repeatedly said that the date to place bids for the national carrier will not be extended.
As per a media report, Tata Group has hired top legal firms and consultants to conduct the due diligence before bidding for the national carrier. Furthermore, there are speculations that the company is planning to merge its stake in AirAsia and Air India into a single entity, however, the officials from the conglomerate said that no such discussions have taken place formally.
Provisional figures show Air India’s total debt exceeds Rs. 58,000 crores as on March 31, 2019. The government has offered a 100% stake in the national carrier to potential bidders besides relaxing a substantial part of the airline's debt. The report added that bidders for the airline will have to absorb Rs. 23,286.50 crore of the total debt while the remaining will be transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd.