Germany eyes business links

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By SUBHRO SAHA
  • Published 16.04.12
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Peter Ramsauer, the German Federal minister for transport, building and urban development who met Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra and industries minister Partha Chatterjee in the city last week, is bullish on business traffic to and from Germany rising in the near future, with a clutch of SMEs on both sides keen on forging partnerships.

“Being at the helm of Germany’s transportation system, I am confident we will need strong connectivity with major Indian cities. Lufthansa will take off again from the new Calcutta airport as soon as it has a critical mass of traffic. That could take six months or three years, but I’m sure it will happen,” stressed the minister.

Ramsauer, accompanied by a high-profile business delegation, also met civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, urban development minister Kamal Nath, railway minister Mukul Roy and minister of heavy industries and public enterprises Praful Patel during his India trip.

“There’s a huge potential for German technical collaboration to meet the growing challenges of India’s transport infrastructure, particularly in the railroad sector. I am trying to motivate the CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG (the German national railroad company), Rüdiger Grube to look at India,” the minister said.

A general MoU is expected to be signed soon between Indian Railways and DB International GmbH of Germany for technology and knowledge sharing for the overall modernisation of the Indian railroad system, added Ramsauer, who was accompanied by wife Susanne, a cousin of Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock.

“It’s a pity that none of the six feasibility studies done for modernisation of Indian Railways till date involved a German agency. But we hope to participate in a big way in future projects, including subway train systems like in Calcutta, Delhi and Bangalore,” the German minister declared.

Anil Punjabi, chairman (east) of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India, felt it would be “a relief” if the German carrier returned to the city skies. “The Calcutta-Frankfurt flight was the only direct link we had with Europe and it’s absolutely critical for the city’s image,” he pointed out.

He felt the airline, when it returns, should work with the German tourism boards to attract tourist traffic from the east and the Northeast.