Airline lobby group to consider Vistara entry
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.