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Bird Group expresses interest in acquiring AI’s ground handling subsidiary

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Aviation services provider Bird Group has written to the government expressing interest in acquiring Air India’s ground handling subsidiary AIATSL. “After IndiGo, Bird Group has written a letter with an expression of interest in Air India,” said civil aviation secretary R N Choubey at an ASSOCHAM event. When contacted, a spokesperson of Bird Group said, “We have written to the government with an interest in Air India’s ground handling arm (AIATSL) because that sits well with our own business model.”

Elaborating, he said the group has urged the government that when it moves forward with the process of disinvesting Air India, it should divest the subsidiaries separately. Air India has several subsidiaries including Air India Air Transport Services (AIATSL), Air India Charters, IAL Airport Services, Airline Allied Services and Air India Engineering Services.

Bird Group’s aviation companies provide varied services from general aviation services and ground handling to cargo management. “Our expression of interest has gone for AIATSL. We are already in this business,” the spokesperson said.

The Union Cabinet had given its in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries in June this year. “We don’t want to buy the company as such. We want to be a bidder. And if we are the highest bidder for what we see the value in it, we will take over,” the spokesperson added.

“What we have told the government is that when you start the process of disinvestment of Air India, please look at disinvestment in the subsidiaries separately to unlock maximum value and we will be keen to bid for one of the subsidiaries, that is the AIATSL,” the spokesperson said replying to questions. “We are waiting for the disinvestment structure from the government. We can’t talk about the value in the company at this stage as we have to see its financials, the liabilities and also what are the possibilities,” he said.

On the day the Cabinet took the decision, InterGlobe Aviation, which runs the low-cost carrier IndiGo InterGlobe Aviation, wrote to the government showing its keeness to acquire the international airline operations of Air India and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express.