Both Singh and Bhatia have bid in their individual capacity and are likely to together hold a majority stake if they get the airline, sources told the Economic Times.

Ajay Singh Ankur Bhatia dressed in suits
Money Air India Friday, March 26, 2021 - 18:30

SpiceJet promoter, Ajay Singh, along with Bird Group’s promoter Ankur Bhatia and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority have emerged as bidders for a 100% stake in cash-strapped airline Air India. Both Singh and Bhatia have bid in their individual capacity and are likely to together hold a majority stake if they get the airline, sources told the Economic Times

However, both Singh and the other investors are yet to make an official statement on the likely tie-up. ET had reported earlier that the Singh-led consortium had submitted EoIs (Expressions of Interest) in December, 2020. 

Singh co-founded SpiceJet in 2005 before it was acquired by Wilbur Ross who later sold it to Kalanithi Maran in 2010. Singh is credited with turning around the airline after he bought it back in 2015. Bhatia is an executive director at Bird Group which deals in hospitality, ground handling among other businesses. Apart from the Singh-led consortium, Tata Group is the other bidder for the airline. 

Meanwhile, the government is evaluating a new timeline for the airline’s disinvestment and financial bids will be called for in the coming days, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday. The Minister noted that the government will have to keep the airline running till it gets divested. 

"We are looking at another timeline now, what is called a data room for prospective bidders to look at... that is opened up, 64 days for the financial bids to come in. After that it is the question of taking a decision and handing over the airline," the Minister said.

The government initiated the process to sell its entire 100% stake in Air India, which has been struggling with losses since it merged with Indian Airlines in 2007.

"...There is no choice, we either privatise or we close the airline. We run a loss of Rs 20 crore every day despite Air India making money now. Because the mismanagement has resulted in a cumulative debt of Rs 60,000 crore," Puri said.

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