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A panel of ministers accepted a proposal recommending Tata Sons's bid for debt-laden state-run airline Air India, Reuters quotes Bloomberg News as reporting.

Tata Sons Ltd, the group holding company that controls Jaguar Land Rover and owns a majority stake in AirAsia India, submitted a bid for Air India earlier this month. The other bidder is SpiceJet Ltd. owner Ajay Singh in his personal capacity.

Indian govt refuted the news, “reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect."

"Media will be informed of the Government decision as and when it is taken," the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary said in a tweet. 

Proceeds from Air India’s sale will be a critical source of revenue to plug the government’s widening budget deficit and as it looks to spur the pandemic-hit economy.

Two previous attempts to offload the airline failed. In 2001, Singapore Airlines Ltd. dropped its bid for a stake in Air India, citing political opposition as one of the reasons. In 2018, IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, pulled out of the running, saying it didn’t have the means to buy the carrier in its entirety and make it profitable.

Despite the mounting debt and losses, Air India has some lucrative assets, including valued slots at London’s Heathrow airport, a fleet of more than 100 planes and thousands of trained pilots and crew.

Air India, originally called Tata Airlines, was established in 1932 by the legendary industrialist and philanthropist J.R.D. Tata, who was also India’s first licensed pilot. It was nationalized around the time of India’s independence in 1947.

 

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