The Tata Group on January 26, 2022, regained ownership of Air India, 69 years after the airline was nationalised. The handover has come as a culmination of the government’s attempt to transfer the ownership of the loss-making airline to a private owner. The airline never made a profit since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007-08 and reported a loss of INR 7,017 crore in FY21.
Speaking on the ownership by the Tata Group, Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI extended her heartiest wishes to the group and said that the acquisition gives Tatas 100 per cent ownership in Air India, its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express and 50 per cent stake in ground handling firm AISATS. “It was more of an emotional connection so to speak, the group was keen on Air India for a long time if we go by the reports. The financial sweetener allowed them to take over the airlines with the right kind of debt,” Mayal said.
“With Air India and Air India Express, the TATA Group now has four airlines and around 23 per cent market share, becoming the second-largest operator in the domestic sector behind IndiGo. It is the largest player on international routes and the only Indian carrier on long haul routes like Europe and USA” she added.
Speaking from the commercial perspective, Mayal said that the AI doesn’t have the required technology or employee training to do route analysis, pricing and booking curves. “Currently its a very manual process, which impacts commercial performance as airline pricing is dynamic in nature, and they will have to augment the team and software in that area”.
“Nevertheless, as an industry veteran, I could gauge that there is a potential to improve cash flow by a billion dollars per year if the planned strategy of the Tatas to improve revenue and cost can be implemented. While the initial plan of the conglomerate is to work towards enhancing the soft side of the existing product as per the reports, Tata group has also identified other areas as well, which I have already spoken about, that needs to be improved to turn around the company,” she further mentioned.
Remembering the past, Mayal further stated “Air India was actually a Maharaja brand with excellent services not close to any other airline. The old travellers have beautiful memories & as an industry, we are confident that it will once again regain its lost glory.”
“As TAAI President, I must appreciate the Air Indians that with their commitment & passion kept the airline flying till date & were able to deliver it in good hands to keep the Indian flag flying high. I would also through this platform hope that the strong connection with the agents and the airline will become stronger to build a robust product & the benefit of both,” she concluded.