Air India, India’s national carrier was officially handed over on Thursday to the Tata Group, who had purchased the debt-laden airline in October last year.
Tata Sons, India’s oldest and largest conglomerate, pioneered commercial aviation in India when it launched the airline in 1932. It was nationalised by the government in 1953.
Tata’s winning bid for Air India was ₹ 18,000 crore (USD 2.4 billion), higher by ₹ 2,900 from the bid made by the SpiceJet chief Ajay Singh.
Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday before the formal handover.
The existing board of directors for the airline has resigned to make way for a new board to be appointed by the Tata Group.
“Your arrival is much awaited”, Tata Group’s Twitter handle said as it celebrated the handover..
Air India’s Twitter handle called the deal a “brand new chapter” as part of the Tata Group. “Two iconic names come together to embark on a voyage of excellence,” the tweet said.
Sale of Air India is the biggest disinvestment in government-owned assets and companies since Mr Modi came to power in 2014.
Tata Group already runs two airlines in India – Vistara, in partnership with Singapore Airlines, and AirAsia India, a budget airline in partnership with Malaysia’s AirAsia. Now it will also own Air India’s many prized assets, including a fleet of 140 aircrafts, thousands of flight crew and premium spaces at airports around the world.
Air India operates to more than 100 destinations in India and abroad and flies to 33 countries.