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Jet Air aims to soar high

Mumbai, May 15: Jet Airways wants to wing its way to international destinations using unused aviation rights of state-run carriers — Indian Airlines and Air-India.

Jet chairman Naresh Goyal said as much as 60 per cent of the routes awarded to the two state-run airlines under bilateral aviation pacts with countries across the globe were not being used. Some of “these could be auctioned” to Jet and Sahara, the only other scheduled private airline, he added.

Currently, flights out of India are a state-monopoly or awarded to foreign airlines under bilaterally negotiated pacts. However, with Air-India and Indian Airlines strapped for aircraft, there are moves afoot to amend this policy and permit them to fly to nearby destinations in South Asia.

“I genuinely believe that we will be able to give service, which is not less than any foreign airline, if not better. We have been writing to them (the government for permission),” he told newspersons. “We have been demanding this for the last three years.”

Jet, which has been flying for the last 10 years, has been dogged in the past by allegations that ownership through cut-outs in tax havens actually vests with investors in West Asia, including from the underworld there. However, Goyal said: “There has been a lot of talk but its absurd and nonsensical. My investments are transparent.”

The chairman said that Jet could easily connect south-east Asian cities such as Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and trading hub Singapore. He is even willing to fly as far as Europe and the US if the government permits. He said both he and Sahara Air chief Uday Bose have been in talks with the government to wrest this concession.

Jet Airways has recently managed to corner up to 46 per cent share of the domestic aviation market, next only to Indian Airlines.

Its fleet comprises 34 Boeing 737 aircraft, including the latest 170 seater B737-900 and eight ATR 72-500 turbo prop aircraft.

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