New Delhi, Sept. 10: Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh is likely to discuss the vexed issue of foreign direct investment in airlines with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during his visit to the city later this week.
Mamata has steadfastly opposed the investment by foreign airlines in their domestic counterparts but has lately shown some flexibility.
Singh, an IIT Kharagpur alumni, will be in Calcutta on September 14 en route to Kharagpur.
“We are in talks with various political parties over the issue (allowing foreign carriers to pick up stake). We hope that a political consensus prevails soon,” Singh told reporters here.
Asked about the opposition by Mamata, he said, “She has neither said no, nor yes on the issue.” Officials said the Centre was keen to get the Trinamul chief on board.
During the second meeting of the UPA co-ordination committee in August-end, Mamata had continued to oppose the government’s move to introduce 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail but showed some flexibility on aviation and sought further consultations.
India allows foreign investors not related in any way to the airline business to buy up to 49 per cent in domestic airlines.
However, it does not allow foreign carriers to invest in the sector.
Even after opening the sector to foreign carriers, the government wants management control to remain in the hands of Indians, who will also constitute two-thirds of the board.