Tata Group mulls merging its four airline brands under Air India

Air India: As the sprawling company seeks to rebuild its faltering aviation empire, Tata Group is considering merging its four airline brands under Air India Ltd., according to people familiar with the situation.

According to the people, who declined to be named because the conversations are private, India’s largest conglomerate is also thinking about getting rid of the Vistara name, which represents Singapore Airlines Ltd’s local subsidiary in the South Asian country. One of the persons said Singapore Airlines is determining how much of the combined company it should own.

Multiple attempts to respond to the Tata Group, Air India, Singapore Airlines, and Vistara were not answered.

With Tata as its new owner, Air India is getting ready for a makeover. The full-service carrier is thinking about placing an order for up to 300 narrow-body aircraft, which would be one of the biggest orders in the annals of commercial aviation. Following a “substantial” expansion in both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft, Air India Chief Executive Campbell Wilson announced last month that the airline would quadruple its current fleet of 113 aircraft over the next five years.

In late September, other persons with knowledge of the situation stated that Air India is also in talks to raise at least $1 billion in a capital round that could value the airline at approximately $5 billion. Starting in December, the airline intends to add 25 Airbus SE and five Boeing Co aircraft from lessors.

In October last year, Tata was chosen as the successful bidder for Air India after outbidding competitors with a $2.4 billion offer. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the purchase was the most visible privatisation in the nation and put a stop to decades of attempts to sell the financially struggling, indebted carrier that had relied on state bailouts for years to operate.

Additionally, it meant that Tata had four airline brands: Air India, Vistara, a full-service airline, as well as the low-cost airlines Air India Express Ltd. and AirAsia India. Earlier this month, Air India announced that it would buy AirAsia’s local subsidiary and combine it with Air India Express to form a single low-cost carrier. By the end of 2023, that consolidation will probably take place.

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