Tata Sons has sought antitrust approval to merge one of its airlines, AirAsia India (I5, Bangalore Int’l), with another, Air India (AI, Mumbai Int’l), proposing that the flag carrier acquire a 100% stake in the low-cost carrier, the Press Trust of India news agency said it consulted the conglomerate’s bid.
Tata bought a 100% stake in state-owned Air India in January through its Talace Private Limited vehicle in a $2.4 billion equity and debt deal. It currently holds an 83.67% stake in AirAsia India, with AirAsia Investment Ltd, part of Malaysia’s Capital A (formerly AirAsia Group), holding the remaining 16.33%.
Local media had speculated since last year that it was more likely to merge AirAsia India with another low-cost carrier, Air India Express (IX, Mumbai Int’l), which the group acquired along with Air India.
“The proposed combination relates to the acquisition of the entire share capital of AirAsia (India) Private Limited by Air India Ltd, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Private Limited,” the notice filed with the Commission reads. competition from India on 27 April. “The proposed combination will not cause any change in the competitive landscape or have any material adverse effect on competition in India.”
The move is the first step taken by Tata Sons to consolidate its airline business, which also includes Vistara (UK, Delhi Int’l), a joint venture with Singapore Airlines.
AirAsia India, which began operations in June 2014, has no international operations but was reportedly close to securing international flight rights. Meanwhile, Air India has lucrative landing slots around the world, but has an aging fleet and poor service levels and finances.
According to advanced ch-aviation fleets module, AirAsia India currently operates a fleet of twenty-eight A320-200s (average age 11.9 years) and five new A320-200Ns, and is awaiting delivery of eight A321-200NXs.
Air India operates a diverse fleet of 124 aircraft, comprising twenty-one A319-100s (average age 13.8 years), nine A320-200s (average age 9.2 years), twenty-seven A320-200Ns (average age 4 ,3 years), twenty A321 -200 (average age 13.5 years), four B747-400 (average age 26.9 years), three B777-200(LR) (average age 12.8 years), thirteen B777- 300(ER) (mean age 12.5 years), and twenty-seven B787-8s (mean age 7.8 years). The flag carrier is said to have been in talks with Airbus, Boeing and lessors about a possible order for new planes.