New Delhi: The Tata Group is expected file an Expression of Interest for debt-ridden national carrier Air India on Monday, sources have said. They said Tata Group will use budget carrier AirAsia India as a vehicle where Tata Sons has a significant majority stake. Also Read - International Flights: Air India Announces Direct Flights to US From Hyderabad From Jan 15 | Detail Schedule Here

Tata Sons has decided to route its Air India interest via AirAsia India even though it runs a premier full-service carrier Vistara in partnership with Singapore Airlines. This is because Singapore Airlines was not keen on participating in the privatisation of the already distressed Air India as it would add to the financial issues of Vistara and also its own. Since AirAsia India was formed before Vistara, its charter allows it to enter the full-service business. Also Read - Despite Testing Positive for COVID -19, Air India Express Crew Member Allowed to Take Flight

Tata Group founded Air India as Tata Airlines in October 1932. The government took control of Air India in 1953. Also Read - Air India Pilot Bodies Advise Members Not to Participate in Disinvestment Process Over 'Disproportionate' Pay Cuts

There was buzz about three leading corporate houses being in the fray for bidding for Air India’s strategic sale as the final date for submission of bids was December 14 and the government did not extend the deadline.

Reports had suggested that leading corporate houses Tata, Adani, Hinduja and several others were evaluating bids for Air India. However, none of these officially said anything.

The government extended the intimation date for bidders for Air India to January 5, from the earlier date of December 29. This is the date for announcing the shortlisted bidders. The physical bids need to be in by December 29.

The government has been trying for two years to divest its Air India. It wants to divest 100 per cent stake in Air India and budget carrier AI Express, and sell its 50 per cent share in Air India SATS Airport Services, a joint venture with Singapore-based ground handling firm SATS.

The government has further sweetened the deal and now it will be sold on its enterprise value.

A group of 209 employees of Air India are making preparations to bid for the national carrier in partnership with a private financier.

As reported earlier, Air India employees are preparing to bid for the national carrier in partnership with a private equity fund and each employee will be asked to contribute Rs 1 lakh towards the bid.

The bid process is being led by Meenakshi Mallik, Commercial Director, Air India.

However, the unions representing pilots and cabin crew have advised their members not to participate in the employee bid.

(With IANS inputs)