Air India CEO Campbell Wilson Meets CCI Chief On Pending Vistara Merger: Report

Air India CEO Campbell Wilson Meets CCI Chief On Pending Vistara Merger: Report

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Campbell Wilson, chief executive officer (CEO), Air India has held talks with the country’s antitrust regulator, the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI’s) head on its pending merger with sister airline Vistara, weeks after the watchdog raised concerns about market power, citing sources news agency Reuters said. The CCI has been scrutinising the planned merger of Air India, which Tata Group took over last year, with Vistara, a joint venture (JV) between Tata and Singapore Airlines. The merged airline would challenge domestic rival and market leader, IndiGo.

According to the report by the news agency, sharing new details of CCI’s concerns, one of the sources said the CCI’s confidential notice to the airline has raised worries about the combined entity’s market power on many international and domestic routes. The CCI also said its initial review showed the market share of Tata Group could be more than 50 per cent in at least seven domestic markets, raising competition concerns, the source pointed out.

CEO Wilson and the General Counsel of Tata Group, Sidharth Sharma, in recent days met CCI Chief Ravneet Kaur to discuss the ongoing merger process. Such meetings are typically held to find a way forward and assuage the CCI’s concerns, sources said, declining to elaborate further or be named as the talks are confidential.

The CCI, Tata Group, Air India, and Vistara did not respond to Reuters’ emails seeking comment.

Last month, Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan said Air India-Vistara merger was expected to receive all regulatory approvals by April 2024.

In June, the news agency stated that the CCI has been concerned that some Air India-Vistara merged routes and categories, such as business class travel, could have a monopoly. The “CCI has asked how Tata plans to think about pricing strategies … The (market) power they will have, how will all this affect pricing,” said the first person.

The CCI’s scrutiny comes amid growing concerns within the industry about a duopoly, with a merged Air India-Vistara and IndiGo controlling more than 75 per cent of the domestic market as other rivals such as SpiceJet and Go First struggle.

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