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69 years after it was nationalised, the Maharaja has finally returned to the Tata Group, India's biggest conglomerate. It took over two decades and three attempts for the Centre to finally handover its flagship national carrier Air India.

The successful conclusion of the deal, the country's first major privatisation in nearly two decades, is a big victory for the Narendra Modi government.

The move also marks a homecoming for debt-laden Air India, which was originally launched in 1932 by Tata Group’s former Chairman JRD Tata as the nation's first carrier, flying mail between Karachi in then-undivided, British-ruled India and Bombay.

After the handover of Air India, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekharan said, “We're totally delighted that this process is complete and happy to have Air India back in the Tata Group. We look forward to walking with everyone to create a world-class airline."

Now, the Tata Group will reportedly make big changes and focus on improving Air India's On-Time-Performance. The maximum emphasis will be given to ensure that all Air India aircraft fly on time.

Tata Group has also planned several other changes. There will be changes in seating arrangements and also the dress of the cabin crew. Tata is a leading player in the hotel business and it will give top priority to improve the quality of food in the airline, according to reports.

A recorded message of industrialist Ratan Tata will also be played out on board in all Air India aircraft.

A brief history of Air India:

- Oct 8, 2021 - The government had announced Tata Sons as the winning bidder for its 100% stake in Air India, after the conglomerate bid 180 billion.

- Sept 15, 2021 - The Union Finance Ministry said Air India has received financial bids from Tata Sons and Ajay Singh, promoter of budget airline SpiceJet.

- Oct 29, 2020 - The government gets two bids after extending the deadline several times.

- Aug 7, 2020 - At least 17 people are killed and more than 100 injured after a plane belonging to budget arm Air India Express overshoots the runway near a southern Indian city.

- Jan 27, 2020 - India renews push to sell stake.

- Dec 12, 2019 - The government decides to sell 100% of its stake after failing to find takers for its offer of 76% and full debt of the company. Provides flexible debt assumption terms.

- June 20, 2018 - India shelves a plan to sell a 76% stake due to lack of interest from bidders.

- May 31, 2018 - India's offer to sell a stake in Air India fails to attract a single bidder by the deadline, with potential buyers citing onerous conditions.

- March 28, 2018 - India plans to sell a controlling stake, along with roughly $5.1 billion of the carrier's debt.

- April 2012 - India approves a $5.8 billion bailout for Air India, which was to be received by 2020.

- July 2009 - Appoints State Bank of India to prepare a roadmap for the airline's recovery after years of losses under state control and emergence of new players.

- 1953 - Air-India nationalised; splits into two - a domestic airline and an international carrier.

- 1946 - Tata Airlines converted into a public company and renamed Air-India Ltd. In the same year, the airline adopts its widely recognised 'Maharaja' mascot.

- 1932 - Air India founded by JRD Tata as Tata Airlines, India's first airline. It operated only domestic flights at that time.

 

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