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After government report on Tata Sons winning Air India after a gap of 89 years

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The government has denied media reports that the Tata Group has won the bid for Air India. Bloomberg had earlier reported that the Tata group had won the bid for Air India more than half a century after handing over control of the national carrier to the government. In a tweet, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management said, “Media reports approving financial bids by Government of India in the case of AI disinvestment are incorrect.”

Tata Group and SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh had bid for debt-ridden state-run Air India earlier this month in his private capacity. In December 2020, the government had invited Expression of Interest for the disinvestment of Air India. Four bidders had entered the race to pick up the troubled airline, but Ajay Singh, CEO of the Tata Group and SpiceJet, was the only one to reach the final stage.

This is the second attempt by the PM Modi-led government to sell Air India. The Center had earlier unsuccessfully tried to sell the ailing airline in March 2018. However, its expression of interest to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India was not taken up at the time due to concerns about the airline’s rising debt.

According to reports, Air India has incurred a loss of over Rs 70,000 crore and the government loses around Rs 20 crore for running the national carrier every day. The troubled airline, which ruled India’s skies, began to lose ground with the advent of private carriers in the 1990s and no-frills airlines in the mid-2000s. The merger with the state-owned domestic airline Indian Airlines in 2007 proved to be the final nail in Air India’s coffin.

But despite its precarious finances, Air India still controls more than 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports and 900 slots abroad.

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