India's salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group on Thursday formally took over the country's ailing national carrier Air India for a whopping 2.4 billion US dollars, three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government announced the deal.
"We are totally delighted to have Air India back at the Tata Group and are committed to making this a world-class airline," Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran told the media in the national capital, where he also had a one-to-one meeting with Modi.
Indian Investment Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey said that the carrier would now be run by a new board of directors.
"The strategic disinvestment transaction of Air India successfully concluded today (Thursday) with the transfer of 100% shares of Air India to M/s Talace Pvt Ltd (a subsidiary of the Tata Group) along with management control," he said.
In October last year, the Indian government announced the name of the Tata Group as the successful bidder for the airline.
Moments later, its Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata had tweeted a photograph of the company's founder JRD Tata posing with an Air India aircraft. "Welcome back, Air India,” the 83-year-old industrialist wrote.
The Indian government had long tried to offload a controlling stake in the airline. But after its initial bid failed to attract buyers, Prime Minister Modi's government had announced that it would sell its entire stake in the national carrier, reeling under a debt of US dollar 3.2 billion.
Founded by industrialist JRD Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932, the carrier was nationalised by the Indian government in 1953, nearly six years after the country gained independence from colonial Britain.
The airline is the largest international carrier out of India, with an 18.6% market share. Air India serves over 57 domestic destinations and 45 international destinations in 31 countries across five continents.
The flagship carrier has many assets, including prized slots at London's Heathrow airport and a fleet of 130 aircraft. On the other hand, the Tata Group currently operates Vistara, the country's only other full-service private carrier, in collaboration with Singapore Airlines.