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Old March 3rd, 2005, 06:30 AM   #21
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Kingfisher livery looks good.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 01:07 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainhoonna
Kingfisher livery looks good.
I prefer Air India Express. Air India Express is good.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 12:58 PM   #23
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Business Times - 08 Mar 2005

Indian carriers eye South-east Asian routes

KUALA LUMPUR - Rival Indian carriers, Jet Airways and Air Sahara, will start maiden flights to Malaysia and Singapore in a bid to secure a stake in lucrative South-east Asian routes, officials said on Tuesday.

Jet Airways sales executive Rama Rao told AFP that the carrier would launch daily roundtrip flights from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur using the Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

'The response is good. We see strong potential for growth. We will be coming after April 25,' he said.

Rival Air Sahara would fly from New Delhi to Singapore via Chennai and Kuala Lumpur before returning to New Delhi starting from late April or early May, an industry source familiar with the carrier's plans told AFP.

'It is a lucrative market we cannot ignore,' he said, adding that Air Sahara would also use the 737-800 aircraft on the routes.

Malaysia Airport's managing director Bashir Ahmad on Monday said Jet Airways and Air Sahara would start flying into Kuala Lumpur International Airport from April.

Mr Rao said Jet Airways would offer economy and business class travel targeting business groups, pilgrims to India and Singaporeans seeking cheaper airfares to India by paying in the Malaysian currency.

However, he said the carrier faced competition on the Chennai route from other carriers including Air Sahara, Malaysia Airlines, Indian Airlines, Air Lanka and Thai Airways.

Jet began flying in 1993 and has 42 aircraft and runs 271 scheduled flights daily within India. It also flies to Colombo and Nepal and has secured landing rights in London.

Air Sahara has also secured landing rights to London, and hopes to link Europe to South-east Asia via India.

The carrier started operations on Dec 3, 1993 following the Indian government's opening up of the Indian skies to private airlines.

Air Sahara's fleet includes Boeing 737 - 700, 737 - 800 and 737 - 400 aircraft. The company currently flies to 22 destinations in India.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old March 14th, 2005, 02:05 PM   #24
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Business Times - 14 Mar 2005

Magicair latest to join India's low-fare biz


(NEW DELHI) Magic Airlines Pvt said it plans to start a low-fare carrier in India, where companies are starting new airlines to cater to the rising demand for air travel in the world's second-most populous country.

The company has applied to India's Civil Aviation Ministry for permission to start Magicair this winter, according to a statement issued on Thursday. The airline is being founded by Nira Radia, who runs public relations company Vaishnavi Corporate Communications Pvt.

India's domestic air traffic rose 12 per cent in the year ended March 31, 2003, to a record 14.8 million passengers.

The New Delhi-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation estimates India's air traffic will rise by five million passengers annually for the next 10 years, prompting the starting of new airlines.

United Breweries Ltd, India's biggest beer maker, plans to start Kingfisher Airlines in May and the Mumbai-based Wadia family, which owns stakes in the country's biggest cookies maker and a textile company, plans to start an airline this year.

Royal Airways Ltd plans to start its discount carrier SpiceJet in May after being grounded for more than eight years and East West Travel & Trade Links Ltd aims to restart flights after seven years. - Bloomberg

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old March 14th, 2005, 02:07 PM   #25
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Business Times - 14 Mar 2005

Jet Airways makes lukewarm stockmarket debut

BOMBAY - India's first listed private airline, Jet Airways, made a lukewarm debut on Monday as the shares opened higher than the public offer price but below market expectations, dealers said.

In afternoon trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Jet Airways was at 1,256 rupees (US$28.7), up on the IPO price of 1,100 rupees but disappointing some who had expected more. The stock had opened at 1,211 rupees.

In afternoon trade, the BSE Sensex was down 14.62 points or 0.21 per cent at 6,839.11.

The company offered a 20 per cent stake or 17.2 million shares at an indicated price of 950-1,125 rupees, with bids for the shares totalling more than 16 times the amount available within an hour.

'The listing is definitely lukewarm or in fact disappointing,' said Hiten Mehta, manager at merchant banking firm, Fortune Financial Services.

India began to deregulate its aviation sector in the 1990s, allowing private players to enter the domestic market previously dominated by state-run carrier Indian Airlines.

Jet Airways, which began flying in 1993, now holds the lion's share of the domestic market with a 45 per cent share, ahead of Indian Airlines and the rest of the competition which includes Air Deccan and Air Sahara.

Aviation analysts say there is a huge untapped market for low-cost carriers in the country of more than one billion people.

Only about 15 million people travel by air annually in India against three million passengers who fly daily in the United States even though the US population is around one-quarter that of India.

The number of passengers is expected to grow to 50 million in five years as a booming economy and new carriers stimulate demand.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old March 18th, 2005, 05:42 AM   #26
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Air Arabia takes off for India

Air Arabia LLC, one of the UAE's national airlines and the first low-cost airline of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region, today announced the commencement of their daily flights to Mumbai from Saturday 26 March 2005.
Flights will depart Sharjah International Airport daily at 16:40 and arrive in Mumbai at 21:00 local time. From Mumbai, flights will depart every day at 21:45 and arrive in Sharjah at 23:25 local time. This latest destination in Air Arabia's constantly expanding network grows the airline's reach to 12 countries and 16 destinations within the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.


http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/55984.html
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Old March 18th, 2005, 05:48 AM   #27
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India China to ink new agreement

Close on the heels of landmark agreements with USA, UK and France, India hopes to sign a new air agreement with it's second largest trading Partner - China.

In the wake of rapidly expanding trade and tourism links between India and China, both the countries have agreed to significantly increase air connectivity between their cities. A broad consensus in this regard was reached following two days of bilateral air services talks, which concluded in New Delhi on Thursday. A formal agreement spelling out the details on the various issues is likely to be finalised and signed during the upcoming visit of a high-level Chinese delegation to India.

Until now, only China Eastern and Air India have been the designated carriers on this route. At present, both sides can operate seven flights a week with Delhi and Mumbai being the points of call for China. Beijing and Shanghai are the two places to which Indian carriers can operate. However there are only two flights a week by Air India and three by China Eastern to New Delhi.
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Old March 18th, 2005, 04:49 PM   #28
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IA seeks nod for flights to UK
17 March 2005
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: International air fares between India and London seem set to cruise to a new low with the state-owned Indian Airlines (IA) now seeking the government go-ahead to start daily flights to Britain from December this year.

"Indian Airlines has already been designated for operations in Britain. It has requested for permission to operate four flights per week to Birmingham and three flights every week to Manchester," civil aviation minister Praful Patel said. The airline, he added, is currently awaiting the green light from British authorities for mounting these flights.

This comes within months of the government granting private airlines - Jet Airways and Air Sahara - entry into London, starting this summer.

Market watchers said, air fares to London - which have touched a low of Rs 20,000 for a return ticket as compared to Rs 50,000 a year earlier - would drop further with the entry of IA, more competition in the skies and increase in tourism activities.

"The increased competition will be beneficial for travellers as connectivity with the Western world improves and fares become cheaper," an analyst said.

Jet Airways has already got the government nod to operate a daily flight to London, while Air Sahara has been allotted two flights a week to Gatwick during the summer schedule beginning late March. State-run Air-India already operates 24 flights a week on the high-density India-Britain route.

Indian Airlines 's proposal to start flights to London, government officials said, stems from the government support that the airline's 43 aircraft purchase plan has been getting.

Meanwhile, the civil aviation minister added that Indian Airlines has already been permitted the rights to operate additional services to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and UAE (Sharjah) from Summer of 2005. It has also been designated for operations to the United Kingdom and the United States.
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Old March 19th, 2005, 03:05 AM   #29
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14 May launch date for bmi London Heathrow to Mumbai - BMI Press release

bmi will launch a four times weekly service between London Heathrow and Mumbai. Services to Mumbai will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with return services to London Heathrow on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. bmi had applied to operate 13 flights per week to serve Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. However, bmi was only granted four flights per week between London Heathrow and Mumbai by the British authorities.

Virgin to start flights to Mumbai from March 28

Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways would launch its London-Mumbai-London service with three Airbus A340 flights a week from March 28. The British airlines' chairman Branson is due to arrive here on March 31 on a two-day visit to the city, airport sources said here today. The Airbus A340-300 daytime flights on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays will arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 10.35 a.M. And depart four hours later, the sources said. The British airline is already operating a daily service between London and Delhi and is launching three services to Mumbai under the bilateral agreement concluded in December.

AI Express to launch services April 28

In it's first phase, AI Express has announced plans to fly to four international destinations - Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Salalah, with service from 5 Indian cities - Calicut, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai and Delhi. AI Express will operate three leased Boeing 737-800s and offer 35 flights a week. The airline plans to take several more aircraft on lease and launch operations to Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta within a year.

Last edited by Suncity; March 19th, 2005 at 03:24 AM.
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Old March 20th, 2005, 12:35 PM   #30
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Business Times - 19 Mar 2005

Indian airlines offer rock-bottom fares as competition heats up

NEW DELHI - Indian carriers are offering low fares for travellers flying to popular destinations like Singapore and Dubai in a bid to win competition from budget airlines in East Asia, news reports said on Saturday.

Air Sahara, a private airline that was allowed last month to fly on international routes, is offering a round trip from New Delhi to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for 10,000 rupees (US$220), the Business Standard newspaper reported.

The current fare offered by other airlines on the is about 16,000 rupees (US$350). Sahara plans to launch its flights to Southeast Asian cities in May.

Separately, state-owned Air India said its low-cost carrier will start operations on April 29, with an inaugural offering of 2,750 rupees (US$60) per ticket to people travelling from New Delhi to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The offer is 50 per cent cheaper than existing fares, the report quoted an Air India official as saying.

Air India will gradually withdraw its existing flights to Middle East countries in favour of its low cost carrier. The airline recently placed orders for 18 aircraft from Boeing for its low-cost operations.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old March 20th, 2005, 04:23 PM   #31
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The first pic of Kingfisher Airlines pointed out by DrWHo and brought to you by www.airliners.net

http://www.airliners.net/open.file/799570/L/
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Old March 21st, 2005, 05:47 PM   #32
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Asia Pulse
March 18, 2005
China, India Agree to Increase Flights

To ensure adequate direct air connectivity, India and China agreed to substantially increase the number of flights and destinations between them.

After two days of bilateral air services talks here, the two sides agreed "to consider significant enhancement of traffic rights from the present level of seven flights per week...

There was also a need to increase the points of call in both countries which are presently restricted to two destinations as well as the number of intermediate and beyond points," an official spokes person said.

Following a "broad consensus" reached in the current round of talks, a formal agreement spelling out the details on various issues is likely to be finalised and signed during the ensuing visit to India of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao early next month.

The last round of bilateral talks were held almost eight years ago in May 1997.

While the Indian side was led by Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad, the visiting Chinese delegation was led by Yang Guoqing, Vice Minister, General Administration of Civil Aviation.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 02:36 AM   #33
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India's Royal Airways to target train travellers
By Rina Chandran

NEW DELHI, March 21 (Reuters) - Indian budget airline SpiceJet, owned by Royal Airways Ltd, is hoping to lure millions of frugal train travellers in the country as it readies for take-off in a booming travel market.

Royal Airways Ltd. (ROYA.BO), among the first privately-held firms to enter the aviation sector in India, will compete with local discount pioneer Air Deccan, besides new entrants Air India Express from the state-owned carrier and Kingfisher Airlines, backed by the country's largest brewer, the UB Group.

But with the Indian air travel market expected to grow at about 25-30 percent over the next five years as incomes rise, the airline is confident there is room for more players.

"There is potential to make domestic air travel a much bigger market than it is now," said Mark Winders, chief executive officer of Royal Airways, who estimates there are 14 million air travellers in a year, a tenth of the number in China.

"It can increase five to ten-fold over the next few years."

Investor and consumer interest is strong in Asia's fourth-largest economy, where the air travel market has remained small due to steep fares inflated by high fuel taxes and levies.

But stiff competition triggered a price war that has expanded the air travel market. The government's decision to raise the foreign investment cap in aviation to 49 percent from 40 percent last year, and promises to improve and privatise airports have also helped.

Shares in Royal have risen nearly 60 percent this year.

SpiceJet, which plans to launch in May, hopes to turn an operating profit by the end of the first half of the first year of operations, and have a positive cash flow by the end of the first year, said Winders.

Jet Airways Ltd. , the largest domestic carrier, which recently raised $435 million in an initial public offering, has a 43 percent share of the market, also served by state-owned Indian Airlines and privately-owned Air Sahara.

But SpiceJet views its competition differently.

"Our competition is trains and 'couches' - people who stay at home and don't travel otherwise. We want to get those Indians flying who have not flown before," said Winders, who had helped launch Canadian budget carrier CanJet Airlines.

"We want to be the Jet of the low-cost carriers."

Royal, which discontinued operations of airline ModiLuft in 1996, tried to relaunch in 2001, but was affected by an industry-wide slowdown in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. MudiLuft was a joint venture with German airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE).

SpiceJet will take off with three leased Boeing (BA.N) 737-800s, and take delivery of the first of the 10 737-800s it has bought early next year. It has an option to buy 10 more.

"Air Deccan's done a good job of bringing the concept of budget airlines to India, but we feel we can still improve on quality and customer service," said Winders.

The company's founders, Royal Holdings Services Ltd., a Nevada-based company owned by the non-resident Indian Kansagra family, hold roughly 40 percent of the airline. Domestic and foreign institutions hold another 20 percent.

The company, which will soon be renamed SpiceJet Ltd., may float a second share issue if it needs more funds, said Winders.

"World over, successful low-cost carriers have challenged the dominance of legacy carriers, we could do that here," he said.

"It could be like the cellphone market: lowering the price created a huge demand in India ... we think lowering fares will do the same for the air travel market here." ($1=43.7).
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Old March 25th, 2005, 03:15 AM   #34
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March 25, 2005
Cheaper air fares to India soon
Prices expected to fall as 2 new carriers will start flying there; another is in talks with CAAS

By Krist Boo

BUSINESSMAN S. Supramaniam, 47, is sick and tired of overbooked flights and overpriced tickets to India. That is why he is looking forward to April and May.

The reason: Two new Indian carriers will start plying the route to the subcontinent - Jet Airways from next month and Air Sahara a month later. And a third carrier is now in talks with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

They break the long-standing grip on the lucrative sector by Singapore Airlines and subsidiary SilkAir, Air India and Indian Airlines.

Although they are not budget carriers, the latest entrants will be a boon to travellers as they will push fares down drastically, analysts and travel agents said.

Delhi-based analyst Kapil Kaul, from the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation, expects return fares to slide to between $550 and $700 in 18 months. The current rate is about $900.

Fares could go as low as $390 if India opens up to Singapore-based budget carriers such as Valuair and Jetstar Asia, he said.

Those doors will open, Mr Kaul said, as India finds other suppliers for global travel over the next few years, while its own airlines beef up their fleets and long-haul capabilities.

SIA, which operates almost a third of the 194 weekly flights from Singapore to 11 cities in India, said its fares will 'remain competitive'.

Newcomer Air Sahara has already turned on the heat by promising bargain-basement return fares at a promotional $374 on its launch.

But even before Air Sahara's first flight, SIA has slashed its prices - a promotion fare of $498 for return tickets to any of four selected Indian cities.

Air Sahara president Rono Dutta told The Straits Times: 'Fares should drop by about 10 to 15 per cent with our entry.'

Jet Airways, which is well-known at home for its service and is India's largest domestic carrier by market share in India, has not firmed up prices.

Its first destination from Singapore will be Mumbai, followed by Chennai and capital Delhi, said its Singapore country manager Joseph Loh.

Its downtown ticketing office will be up by next week.

Increased flights would bring more Indian visitors here. Some 471,000 Indians came last year, the sixth largest group among all tourists.

With only 3 to 5 per cent of India's 1.1-billion population travelling by air, it is a huge market to be tapped.

Already, both air and cargo traffic between the two countries have jumped almost a quarter last year over 2003.

For Mr Supramaniam, who flies to India about twice a year, the entry of new players on the route is overdue.

He will 'double' his trips if fares drop a third of the $800 he paid for a ticket two weeks ago.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 03:28 AM   #35
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Delhi & Mumbai : Cap on user charge hike at 2 key airports
23 March 2005
The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: The government will impose a cap on hike in user charges after the Delhi and Mumbai airports are handed over to corporate managements.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel said on Monday that the cap will be in the region of 10-15% to ensure that airlines and passengers do not suffer on account of sudden hike in user charges. The cap will apply to both passenger and cargo traffic.

The task of managing tariffs will be handed over to the proposed Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) once it is set up.

Establishment of the regulator will be part of the comprehensive civil aviation policy and a separate legislation will be enacted for the Authority, Mr Patel said during an informal chat with mediapersons after receiving a dividend cheque from the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The regulator is supposed to lay down tariff structures and performance standards.

Mr Patel said that work on restructuring of the Delhi and Mumbai airports was 'on track' and he hoped that the request for proposal (RFP) for the two airports will be ready soon.

Various issues, including clubbing of the Mumbai airport revamp with development of a new airport at Navi Mumbai, are under consideration. The government is looking at the provision of the right of first refusal for Navi Mumbai airport to the same corporate body that takes up restructuring of Mumbai airport.

The empowered group of ministers (eGOM) on airport restructuring has completed its work and the RFP documents will be finalised before March 31 if other ministries extend their co-operation, Mr Patel said.

The RFP has to be approved by all the ministries concerned - defence, law, finance and civil aviation. The eGOM's in-principle approval to the restructuring process has been obtained and minutes have been approved, he added.

Mr Patel said AAI will spend Rs 250 crore to make immediate improvements in airport infrastructure at the Delhi and Mumbai airports. The spending will be on parking bays, taxiways and terminal buildings so that the two airports can cater to the rapidly-growing traffic till the new facilities, to be developed with private sector participation, are ready in three years.

"If investments are not made now, the two airports will get choked soon. There is no option but to go ahead with building new parking bays and taxiways," Mr Patel said in reply to queries on congestion at airports.

No major investment in infrastructure was allowed in the past five years as the NDA government discussed various strategies for upgradation of airport infrastructure.

"Meanwhile, traffic has grown by leaps and bounds. If we do not build airport terminals now, it will not be possible to allot infrastructure to new airlines which are coming up," Mr Patel said.

A significant part of the planned investment will go into the terminal buildings used by private airlines in Mumbai and Delhi.

To check congestion, the civil aviation ministry has set up a committee to speed up aircraft landings and take-off at Delhi and Mumbai airports. "We will like to increase aircraft turnaround to 35 movements per hour, compared to 25 now," Mr Patel said.

Ultimately, it will be necessary to take up the speed of landings and take-off to 40 movements per hour, which is already being done in some countries, including Australia, he added.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 03:24 PM   #36
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Sahara plans $300 mn fleet expansion

BYAS ANAND
MARCH 21, 2005
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/a...ow/1058238.cms

NEW DELHI: Preparing to spread its wings in international skies, Air Sahara has penned a massive $300-million fleet expansion plan under which six new Boeing jets are being inducted, starting April this year. In addition, the airline is also in negotiations to take on lease three wide-bodied planes that will help Air Sahara mount long-haul services to London in the summer of 2005, Air Sahara CEO Rono J Dutta said.

"Orders have already been placed for six Boeing jets and all the deliveries would be completed by June this year. This would include a mix of B737-800, 737-700, 737-400 and 737-300," Dutta said. The deal is expected to cost the airline around $35 million a piece. These new planes, which will sport the Indian tricolour, will mark the start the Air Sahara's operations to Asean nations this May. The airline had last week announced a return fare of Rs 10,000 to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 03:34 PM   #37
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A render of Sahara's new livery, posted by Suncity:



Waiting for actual pics once they commission it..

Existing livery (credit to Charles Falk and airliners.net):

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Old March 25th, 2005, 07:19 PM   #38
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India to invest $20 bn in airports, airlines


NEW DELHI, MARCH 25: The Indian government plans to spend $20 billion over the next 5 years upgrading airports and expanding two government-owned airlines to win passengers from the regional hubs of Singapore and Dubai.


The government will also sell stakes in Mumbai and New Delhi airports, seeking outside investment of as much as $3.5 billion to improve infrastructure, Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in an interview in New Delhi on Thursday.

The Indian government is trying to catch up with Singapore, which is spending $1.75 billion on a third terminal at the Changi airport and Dubai, which is spending $4.1 billion on expansion.

Some 80 per cent of India's overseas traffic is carried by non-Indian airlines, which use better-equipped hubs outside of the country. Improving the airports will help spur growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy, Patel said.

`We have lost out on the opportunity to be a truly international hub,'' Patel said. ``We have to correct that.''

Singapore's Changi airport handles about 30 million passengers annually while Dubai International Airport handles about 22 million passengers annually, according to the airports' web sites. Mumbai's International Airport handles about 13 million passengers annually, its web site says.

International Traffic

Air India Ltd. and Indian Airlines Ltd., the country's two government-owned airlines, handle about 20 per cent of the nation's overseas traffic while airlines such as Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Singapore Airlines Ltd. fly about 80 per cent, Patel, 48, said.

Air India is planning to buy 68 planes from Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. to increase flights to the U.S., Europe and Asian countries. It will also expand its network to Australia and Canada. Indian Airlines, which flies mostly domestic routes, is buying 43 planes and aims to offer more flights to Europe.

Improving India's airlines is crucial to making the airports more attractive, said Krishan Sehgal, who helps manage $400 million of Asian equities at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Singapore.

Successful airports ``have successful home airlines,'' Sehgal said. ``Until India has very successful airlines, it will be difficult for India to say our airports are successful.''

Other Indian carriers such as Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines Ltd. last year won the Indian government's permission to fly overseas, including to the U.K., U.S. and Southeast Asia.

Partial Privatisation

India is seeking bids from Fraport AG, Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd., Singapore Changi Airport Enterprise Pte., Aeroports de Paris and five other companies this week for stakes in India's biggest airports -- New Delhi and Mumbai.

The winners may have to spend as much as $3.5 billion to upgrade the two airports, the government said March 16. Malaysia Airport Holdings is building a new airport in southern city of Hyderabad and Siemens AG and Unique Zurich Airport are building another in Bangalore.

Jet Airways, India's largest domestic airline, which is controlled by billionaire Naresh Goyal, flies to only two international destinations. The airline has a fleet of 42 planes.

Air India has a fleet of 34 planes and flies to 30 cities.

The investment will also lure more flights from foreign airlines, said Adrian Lim, who helps manage $11 billion of Asian assets at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd. in Singapore.

Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., and British Airways Plc last year won approval to increase flights to India. They will compete with Indian airlines for the 4 million tourists who visit India annually and for Indians working overseas.

"India will get its fare share of regional travel as it leverages of an increasingly large and important domestic market,'' Lim said.


http://www.financialexpress.com/late...ntent_id=86206
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Old March 26th, 2005, 12:09 PM   #39
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Business Times - 26 Mar 2005

India to spend US$20b to upgrade airports and compete with S'pore, Dubai


(MUMBAI) The Indian government plans to spend US$20 billion over the next five years upgrading airports and expanding two state-owned airlines to win passengers from the regional hubs of Singapore and Dubai.

The government will also sell stakes in Mumbai and New Delhi airports, seeking outside investment of as much as US$3.5 billion to improve infrastructure, Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in an interview.

The Indian government is trying to catch up with Singapore, which is spending US$1.75 billion on a third terminal at the Changi airport and Dubai, which is spending US$4.1 billion on expansion.

Some 80 per cent of India's overseas traffic is carried by non-Indian airlines, which use better-equipped hubs outside the country. Improving the airports will help spur growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy, Mr Patel said. 'We have lost out on the opportunity to be a truly international hub,' Mr Patel said. 'We have to correct that.'

Changi airport handles about 30 million passengers annually while Dubai International Airport handles about 22 million passengers annually, according to the airports' websites. Mumbai's international airport handles about 13 million passengers annually.

Air India and Indian Airlines, the two government-owned airlines, handle about 20 per cent of India's overseas traffic while foreign airlines fly about 80 per cent, Mr Patel said.

Air India plans to buy 68 Airbus and Boeing planes to increase flights to the US, Europe and Asian countries. It will also expand its network to Australia and Canada. Indian Airlines, which flies mostly domestic routes, is buying 43 planes and will offer more flights to Europe.

Improving India's airlines is crucial to making the airports more attractive, said Krishan Sehgal at AMP Capital Investors in Singapore. Successful airports 'have successful home airlines', he said. 'Until India has very successful airlines, it will be difficult for India to say our airports are successful.'

Other Indian carriers such as Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines last year won the Indian government's permission to fly overseas, including to the UK, US and South-east Asia.

India is seeking bids from Fraport, Malaysia Airport Holdings, Changi Airport Enterprise, Aeroports de Paris and five others this week for stakes in India's biggest airports - New Delhi and Mumbai.

The winners may have to spend as much as US$3.5 billion to upgrade the two airports, the government said on March 16. Malaysia Airport Holdings is building a new airport in southern city of Hyderabad and Siemens AG and Unique Zurich Airport are building another in Bangalore.

The investment will also lure more flights from foreign airlines, said Adrian Lim at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia in Singapore. 'India will get its fair share of regional travel as it leverages of an increasingly large and important domestic market,' he said. - Bloomberg

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old March 26th, 2005, 12:51 PM   #40
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Great news. The selling of shares and the partial privitization of the airports was long overdue.
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