The government’s proposed sale of Air India has finally, after several abortive attempts, begun to see some forward movement. Several expressions of interest (EoIs) have been reportedly received, including one from the Tata group, which has long had an interest in the airline — which is, after all, a direct descendant of the Tata Airlines that was nationalised after independence. Any sale of Air India to the Tata group would be seriously complicated by Tata Sons’ interest in two other airlines — the low-cost carrier AirAsia, which it runs with a Malaysian partner, and the full-service Vistara, where its partner is Singapore Airlines. While overall some consolidation in the sector would be useful, the fact is that airline mergers have not typically done well in India, and Tata Sons’ partners might have different views on the way forward. Also, if Air India and Vistara merge, that would leave India with only one full-service airline and give the merged entity a near-monopoly in India of long-haul international travel.
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First Published: Thu, December 17 2020. 22:22 IST