Celebi Aviation interested in bidding for Air India’s ground handling unit

Ground handling company Celebi Aviation is keen to bid for Air India’s ground handling unit when it’s put on the block by the government, its India CEO Murali Ramachandran has said.

The unit, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATS) provides ground handling services at 63 airports across the country. Celebi was one of the first parties to show interest when the government first proposed to put AIATS up for privatisation in 2019.

“Of course, we’d be interested; there’s no question about that. The Air India ground handling subsidiary, which is currently sitting within the holding company that the government has set up, will be up for sale and we are eagerly looking forward to the PIM (preliminary information memorandum) coming up for that.

If we get that (AIATS) we will be supporting Tatas through the handling of Air India’s ground handling. Celebi already handles ground handling for AirAsia India.”

Murali Ramachandran, CEO (India), Celebi Aviation

People tracking the development said the government may put it on the block in May. Automobile-to-aviation conglomerate Tata Sons won the bid for erstwhile national carrier Air India in October last year. AIATS wasn’t part of that deal.

Four Air India subsidiaries – AIATS, Airline Allied Services Ltd (AAS), Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIES) and Hotel Corporation of India Ltd (HCI) – and Air India’s non-core assets, painting and artefacts, along with a large chunk of its debt were transferred to a special purpose vehicle called Air India Asset Holdings Ltd (AIAH).

Celebi Aviation is interested in bidding for Air India’s ground handling unit

The SPV was set up in 2019. Ramachandran said that while overall demand is coming back, Celebi’s business depends on the demand for international flights.

Çelebi Ground Handling is a Turkish ground handling firm based at Ankara Esenboğa Airport. Çelebi Ground Handling has a presence across 24 major airports in Turkey and is present in international markets with subsidiaries in India, Hungary, Belgium and Austria.

Çelebi was founded in 1958 as the first privately-owned ground handling services company in Turkish aviation. Çelebi is listed on the İstanbul Stock Exchange.

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