Air India is nostalgic airline for most TCSers: CEO Rajesh Gopinath

Air India is a "nostalgic airline" for most TCS employees and the IT services major will offer its complete support in whatever form it can, to contribute to the revival of the airline, TCS CEO said

Air India

Air India is a "nostalgic airline" for most TCS employees and the IT services major will offer its complete support in whatever form it can, to contribute to the revival of the airline to its former glory, TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan said on Friday.

The comments by the TCS top honcho come on a day when Tata Sons won the bid for acquiring Air India.

Tata Sons will retake Air India - the airline it founded nearly 90 years back - as the government accepted its winning bid of Rs 18,000 crore to acquire 100 per cent of the debt-laden state-owned carrier.

"Air India is quite a nostalgic airline for most TCSers. Almost all of us took our first international trip on Air India, and we used to go with this return ticket and that used to be our safety guard that if all else fails, we just have to get to an Air India office somewhere, and we'll get back home," Gopinathan recalled.

He added that TCS will do its best "to contribute in whichever form we can, to revive it (Air India) to the glory that it had as one of the best airlines in the world".

Talace Pvt Ltd, a unit of the holding company of Tata group, made the winning bid of Rs 2,700 crore cash and Rs 15,300 crore in debt takeover. The transaction is targeted to be closed by December.

Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, who previously served as TCS CEO, termed this a "historic moment".

"This is a historic moment, and it will be a rare privilege for our group to own and operate the country's flag-bearer airline," he said.

Air India will be the third airline brand in the Tatas' stable - it holds a majority interest in AirAsia India and Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd.

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata founded the airline in 1932. It was called Tata Airlines then. In 1946, the aviation division of Tata Sons was listed as Air India and in 1948, Air India International was launched with flights to Europe.

The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. In 1953, Air India was nationalised.

Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata tweeted an old photograph of company's former chairman JRD Tata getting down from an Air India aircraft, minutes after Tata Sons regained control of the government airline - nearly 70 years after its nationalisation.

"Welcome Back, Air India," he said. "The Tata Group winning the bid for Air India is great news. While admittedly it will take considerable effort to rebuild Air India, it will hopefully provide a very strong market opportunity to the Tata Group's presence in the aviation industry."

Tatas, he said, will have the opportunity of regaining the image and reputation it enjoyed in earlier years.

"On an emotional note, Air India, under the leadership of Mr J R D Tata had at one time gained the reputation of being one of the most prestigious airlines in the world," Tata said.

"Mr J R D Tata would have been overjoyed if he was in our midst today," he said thanking the government for its opening of select industries to the private sector.