Amid indications that the Tata-SIA airline venture will take wings by summer of 2014, Tata Group Chairman Emeritus, Ratan Tata and SIA chief, Goh Choon Phong on Friday met Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma and Civil Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh to seek fast clearances for the ambitious project.
The meeting with Mr. Sharma and Mr. Singh comes a day after the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) cleared the Tata-Singapore Airlines (SIA). “We are looking for fast clearances. We hope that we will be able to launch by May-June,’’ Tata SIA Airlines chairman Prasad Menon, who accompanied Mr. Tata and Mr. Goh for the meeting with Mr. Singh told reporters.
Mr. Singh said the entry of Tata-SIA Airlines would benefit the Indian aviation sector as SIA was globally known for its expertise in technical and managerial matters and was one of the best airlines in the world.
Referring to the various clearances required from his Ministry, Mr. Singh said he saw no problems in these things happening at a fast pace. “I don't see any problems. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will have to be satisfied. There are issues relating to fleet, parking space, slots and routes. It depends on how fast Tata-SIA gives all the data and documents,’’ he remarked.
Complimenting Mr. Singh for opening up the aviation sector in a really global manner, Mr. Tata said now it is our responsibility to make him proud and the Tata Sons' airline venture with SIA was a great opportunity towards that end.
Asked about what kind of aircraft would the new airline consider flying, Mr. Goh and Mr. Menon said no fleet plan has yet been drawn up as they were still working on it.
Maintaining that the new airline will provide premium service, Mr. Tata said he was excited about FIPB approval and added that a lot of hard work needed to be put in to start the airline.
Mr. Goh and Mr. Menon said SIA would pump in money for equity infusion into the new airline joint venture.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Tata along with Mr. Goh met Mr. Sharma and Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram. On Thursday they had met Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. The Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, the venture would be headquartered in Delhi.
Sources in the Commerce Ministry said Tata Sons and SIA have assured the government that control of their proposed venture would always remain in Indian hands. Of the six directors, four would be nominated by the Tatas. This is Tatas' second venture in the aviation sector after its tie-up with Malaysian carrier Air Asia in February for a low-cost passenger air service in the country.