Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) has shortlisted three major firms to help the struggling carrier develop and implement a viable business plan, reports Live Mint. Global consulting groups McKinsey and Co., Bain and Co., and EY have been selected to move forward in the tender process which commenced last year.

Speaking to Live Mint, Air India's managing director Ashwani Lohani, said that the successful group will be expected to "help look into product development, brand management, market share, competitiveness, frequent flier programme and the entire business model. Basically tell us what we need to do urgently."

The last time Air India called on external consultants was in 2007 when Accenture recommended the merger of Air India with its sister Indian Airlines (IC, Delhi Int'l). Instead of the INR10 billion (USD148.5 million) first year profit predicted, the newly merged airline suffered three consecutive years of losses totalling INR93 billion (USD1.3 billion). A government bail out package was agreed in 2012 in an effort to keep Air India viable.

That bailout, for a total of INR300 billion (USD4.45 billion) staggered over ten years, enabled the airline to post an operational profit last year for the first time in over a decade. Jubilation was short lived, as it suffered losses again the past two quarters. The Indian government has committed to an equity boost of INR18 billion (USD267 million) for 2017-18 which, The Statesman reports, is actually higher than the prescribed allocation.