After months of no news about how Air India’s divestment process is progressing, the Maharaja was again in the news on Wednesday when a leading daily quoted Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, as saying that “about four years ago we did show interest to partner with Ratan Tata (for an Air India joint bid).” Al Baker added that at that time Ratan Tata was not interested.
Today, the Tata Group is one of the bidders for Air India.
In a way Qatar Airways failure in its attempts at tying up with the Tatas to bid for Air India in 2018 could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the airline.
AI is a member of Star Alliance, the largest global alliance of 26 airlines including Lufthansa, Swiss, ANA, Air Canada, United and Turkish. The Star Alliance network currently offers more than 12,000 daily flights to almost 1,300 airports in 197 countries.
On the other hand, Qatar Airways is a member of OneWorld, a competing global airlines alliance which includes 14 airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and SriLankan.
Air India joined Star Alliance in July 2014. If a competing Alliance’s airline were to get ownership of the Maharaja, which could have happened if the Tatas had tied up with Qatar Airways and been successful in the bid, then the Maharaja would have had to exit Star Alliance.