Air­line lobby group to con­sider Vis­tara en­try

Mint ST - - CORPORATE - BY TARUN SHUKLA tarun.s@livemint.com NEW DELHI

The Fed­er­a­tion of In­dian Air­lines, which three years ago fought un­suc­cess­fully to block new air­line Vis­tara ap­pears to be soft­en­ing its stand.

Vis­tara, a joint ven­ture by Tata Sons and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, has made a re­quest to join the lobby group, a per­son aware of the mat­ter said, de­clin­ing to be iden­ti­fied. Ac­cord­ing to Spice­jet Ltd chair­man Ajay Singh, FIA is likely to take up the re­quest at its next meet­ing.

“Yes; that’s right,” Singh said, re­fer­ring to the re­quest. “FIA has to take a call. I guess when­ever there is the next FIA meet­ing this has to be taken up.”

FIA mem­bers, which in­clude In­ter­globe Avi­a­tion Ltd (op­er­at­ing Indigo, In­dia’s largest air­line), Spice­jet, Jet Air­ways (In­dia) Ltd and Goair, fly eight out of 10 do­mes­tic air pas­sen­gers.

Un­til 2014, for­eign air­lines were not al­lowed to own stakes in In­dian air­lines. The change in rule that year en­abled the launch of Vis­tara and Airasia In­dia, both backed by the Tata group.

FIA moved court against the grant of li­cence to the two air­lines, claim­ing the new rules were meant to bring for­eign in­vest­ments into ex­ist­ing air­lines, and not to start new ones with for­eign air­line in­vest­ments. They also claimed Vis­tara and Air Asia In­dia were con­trolled by for­eign­ers.

It is not clear when the air­lines are sched­uled to meet next. This is Vis­tara’s sec­ond at­tempt to join FIA. The first at­tempt in 2016 was not fruit­ful.

An Indigo spokesper­son de­clined to com­ment. Emails sent to Jet Air­ways and Goair went unan­swered. Vis­tara de­clined to com­ment.

The re­quest comes at a time when Spice­jet’s Singh is likely to take over as the new head of Con­fed­er­a­tion of In­dian In­dus­try’s avi­a­tion com­mit­tee, the first per­son men­tioned above said. Singh did not deny the move but de­clined to of­fer com­ments on it. This po­si­tion is cur­rently held by Vis­tara.

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