Air India

Air India is back with the Tatas. But what next? : Coomi Kapoor

(Coomi Kapoor is a journalist and the author of The Tatas, Freddie Mercury and Other Bawas: An Intimate History of Parsis. The column first appeared in the print edition of The Indian Express on October 11, 2021)

  • As news of the Tatas taking over Air India spread, snappy jokes about ghar wapasi, “airlooms” and “Tata does not always mean goodbye’’ flooded social media. The mood was overwhelmingly sentimental: A perennially sick airline had returned to its roots, and was waiting to be nursed back to good health. While the sale of Air India is a big boost to the government’s disinvestment drive, some wondered whether the investment, at a time when the aviation business is in the doldrums, made sound business sense for the Tatas. The deal bore the clear stamp of chairman emeritus of the Tata group, Ratan Tata, 83, an entrepreneur with a reputation for bold gambles, uninhibited by the bottom line, in acquiring marquee brands, whether in overbidding for the Anglo-Dutch industrial giant, Corus Steel, or purchasing Jaguar Land Rover when the auto sector market was down.

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