Business strategy

Tata Group Plans To Merge Air India, Vistara, AI Express and AirAsia India Into One Entity: Report

Tata group is considering a plan to consolidate its four airline brands — Air India, Vistara, Air India Express and AirAsia India — under Air India Ltd, according to a Bloomberg report quoting people with knowledge of the matter. The report said the group is also planning to scrap the Vistara brand, which is Singapore Airlines’ local affiliate in India.

The report said Singapore Airlines is evaluating the size of the stake it should take in the combined entity. The Tata group is preparing to rebuild its aviation business.

As per reports earlier, the merger process will start with the transfer of its ownership in AirAsia India to Air India soon, while there is also an indicative time limit of completing the merger of the Tatas’ whole airline business by 2024 at most.

As per the merger plan earlier reported by The Indian Express in September, the merger process is set to begin with the consolidation of AirAsia India into Air India Express. The merger is likely to be completed within the next 12 months. After this merger is completed, the Tata Group may look into a Air India-Vistara merger, with Singapore Airlines (SIA), which owns a part of Vistara, partnering with the group to become part owners of Air India.

Tatas also took over Air India and Air India Express in January this year. The Tata group in October 2021 emerged as the winning bidder for loss-making Air India. It offered a bid of Rs 18,000 crore, comprising cash payment of Rs 2,700 crore and taking over the carrier’s debt worth Rs 15,300 crore. In January, the Tata group regained ownership of Air India. Apart from this, the Tata Group owns 83.67 per cent ownership in AirAsia India and a holds 51 per cent shares in Vistara.

Since taking over Air India in January this year, Tatas have unveiled a comprehensive transformation plan for reviving the loss-making airline. The plan focuses on five factors — industry leadership, robust operations, commercial efficiency, industry best-talent and exceptional customer experience.

The airline will be inducting five wide-body Boeing and 25 Airbus narrow-body planes over the next 15 months. The aircraft being leased are 21 Airbus A320 neos, four Airbus A321 neos and five Boeing B777-200LRs, according to a release issued by the airline on September 15.

Air India’s narrow-body fleet stands at 70 aircraft. Out of them, 54 are in service and the remaining 16 aircraft will progressively return to service by early 2023. The wide-body fleet stands at 43 aircraft, of which 33 are operational. The rest will return to service by early 2023.

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