Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group firms, on Friday said discussions on acquiring a stake in the financially troubled Jet Airways have been at a preliminary stage and that no such proposal has been made so far.
In a statement issued here after its Board meeting, the company said: “Over the last few days there has been growing speculation in the print and electronic media about Tata’s interest in Jet Airways. We would like to clarify that any such discussions have been preliminary and no proposal has been made.”
On Thursday, Jet Airways dismissed recent reports of its likely merger with Tata SIA Airlines stating that there was no such discussion in the company’s Board.
Today’s clarification came with reference to raging speculation since a month in a section of the media about Tata’s reported interest in investing in the beleagured Jet Airways, in which UAE’s Etihad Airways has a 24 per cent stake.
Reports of Tata’s interest in Jet Airways had boosted market sentiments for the latter, though it had in mid-October termed such reports as mere speculation. According to industry experts, the proposed Tata-Jet deal could have helped Tata consolidate its own expanding aviation business comprising two airlines.
Currently, Tata has a stake in the Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia and operates a joint venture airline, Air Vistara with Singapore Airlines (SIA) since 2015.
Prior to this, there was similar speculation about Tata eyeing the troubled national flag carrier, Air India which was originally founded as Tata Airways by the late J.R.D. Tata in 1932, and later renamed.
Later in the 1990s, Tata’s plans to launch an airline with SIA by bidding for AI were allegedly scuttled by Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal, and more recently, opposing easing of norms for international services.
Launched in 1993, the Mumbai-based Jet Airways currently operates on 66 domestic and international destinations with a fleet of 124 aircraft.