The Hinduja group, long-tipped as a potential bidder in the privatisation of Air India and Indian Airlines, has tied up with Lufthansa on its bid for the former. The Videocon group is meanwhile reported to have established a "technical tie-up" with an unnamed US carrier in its bid for Indian Airlines. Technical bids and business plans for both carriers were due in on 23 February.

In the Air India privatisation, the Tata group is also thought to have placed a bid together with Singapore Airlines, but London-based steel magnate LN Mittal has withdrawn. He was due to bid in partnership with Kotak Mahindra, with technical advice from British Airways and Qantas.

Emirates and Air France/Delta Air Lines had also been tipped as bidders for Air India, with a maximum of 26% available to foreign investors, but have struggled to find the required Indian partners.

Bids for a 26% stake in Indian Airlines are limited to domestic companies, non-resident Indians and foreign companies owned by expatriate Indians, with foreign airlines barred from investing.

Source: Flight International