Air India Sale – What’s The Latest?

The bids for Air India have officially closed, with several companies hoping to take over the flag carrier. With bidders ranging from the original founders, the Tata Group, to a group of employees, here’s the latest in the drawn out saga of the Air India sale.

Air India Boeing 787
The Air India sale process could finally be reaching its end. Photo: Getty Images

The bids are in

After months of delays, the final date for bidding for Air India has officially lapsed on December 14th. While the government is yet to officially comment on who is bidding, it has confirmed that there are “multiple expressions of interest” in the airline.

Under the timeline laid out, companies had until December 14th to submit their expression of interest, after which they have 15 days to submit an official bid for the carrier. The bidders who qualify will be notified by the government on January 5th, 2021.

Air India 777
The new owners can take over Air India before next summer. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Once the bidding and sale process is complete, it will likely take a few months before the new owner takes the reigns. While no exact timeline has been laid out, Air India could be a private carrier as early as summer 2021. However, the ongoing crisis could delay such ambitions, as it has in the past too.

Who wants the airline?

As mentioned, the government has not announced which companies have bid for the flag carrier. However, a few bidders have either made their plans public or are extremely likely to have placed a bid.

According to the Times of India, two employee groups have placed a bid for Air India. One group, led by AI Board Member Meenakshi Mallik, has 209 employees forming a consortium to buy 49% of the carrier. The second bid is proposed by New York-based financial firm Interrups, which plans a 51-49% split among employees and itself, with the firm providing the needed capital.

SpiceJet MD Ajay Singh in front of SpiceJet
SpiceJet’s CEO Ajay Singh reportedly placed a bid for Air India. Photo: Getty Images

There are two airlines in the fray as well. SpiceJet’s Ajay Singh reportedly placed a bid to take over Air India, although details of this plan are few. Lastly, the Tata Group, the owner of Vistara and AirAsia India, has formally placed its bid to take over Air India as well.

Who is the leader?

When looking at the current list, the Tata Group stands out as the favorite to win any bid for the airline. Aside from having the most capital, Tata also has years of experience in the aviation industry through Vistara and AirAsia, as well as a historical link to Air India. However, nothing is set in stone until the final winner is announced, which is dependent on their bidding value.

Tata Sons Vistara retrojet getty
The Tata Group is the favorite to win the bid for Air India. Photo: Getty Images

The next few weeks will likely see the list of bidders whittled down to a handful, allowing them to gauge the value of the airline. After a year fraught with delays, Air India is officially on its way towards privatization.

What do you think about the Air India sale process? Will the Tata Group win the bid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!