SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA) said on Tuesday (Nov 29) it would emerge as a 25.1 per cent owner of Air India as part of a deal that would merge its Vistara full-service airline joint venture with Tata Sons into India's national carrier.
SIA will invest S$360 million into Air India as part of the transaction, with both companies aiming to complete the merger by March 2024 subject to regulatory approvals.
SIA said it intends to fully fund this investment with its internal cash resources, which stood at S$17.5 billion as of Sep 30, 2022.
The merger would bolster its presence in India, strengthen its multi-hub strategy and allow it to continue participating directly in a large and fast-growing aviation market, the company added.
It would also result in a strategic stake in an entity that is four to five times larger in scale compared to Vistara.
SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong said: “Our collaboration (with Tata) to set up Vistara in 2013 resulted in a market-leading full-service carrier, which has won many global accolades in a short time.
“With this merger, we have an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Tata and participate directly in an exciting new growth phase in India’s aviation market.
"We will work together to support Air India’s transformation programme, unlock its significant potential, and restore it to its position as a leading airline on the global stage."
DEAL WILL MAKE FURTHER INROADS INTO INDIA MARKET
India is currently the world’s third largest aviation market and demand for air travel is surging with passenger traffic expected to more than double over the next 10 years.
However, the country remains underserved with low international seats per capita, signifying significant growth potential.
With the integration, Air India will be the only Indian airline group to operate both full-service and low-cost passenger services, reinforcing its position as India’s largest international carrier and second largest domestic carrier.
SIA, along with Tata, is prepared to participate in additional capital injections, if required, to fund the growth and operations of the enlarged Air India in FY2022-23 and FY2023-24.
Its share of any additional capital injection could be up to S$880 million, payable only after the completion of the merger, the company said.