BUSINESS

Jagson Airlines becomes scheduled airline

NEW DELHI JAN. 3. The Central Government has given permission to Jagson Airlines Limited to operate as a scheduled airline. Jagson will now compete for the domestic market share with Jet Airways and Air Sahara in the private sector.

Promptly, the airline today announced a direct weekly flight from Delhi to Rajkot within the month, to be followed with operations from Mumbai to Rajamundry. Later, it will provide connectivity from Delhi to Kolkata via Nagpur and Raipur and during non-peak afternoon hours from Delhi to Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore.

Making the announcement here today, the Chairman of Jagson Airlines, Jagdish P. Gupta, said for these operations the airline would acquire six to eight 30 to 50-seater aircraft. Talks were in an advance stage with three small aircraft manufacturers namely Embraer, Bombadier and ATR. "We propose to acquire these aircraft on dry lease and lease purchase basis," Mr. Gupta said.

According to him, the airline, which operates on feeder routes with three 18-seater Dornier aircraft as a non-scheduled operator, has an excellent safety record since it started flying ten years ago. Its basic philosophy has been to develop tourism, but with its current expansion plans, it proposes to fly during non-peak hours and to places where major players in the domestic sector do not. "We assess the market and create new routes," Mr. Gupta said.

The airline is known to operate between Delhi and Kullu, Shimla, Chandigarh and Dehradun in a single flight. It will now connect Dehradun to Lucknow. During peak tourist season it has operated six flights a day to Kullu.

Jagson's parent company, Jagson International Limited, is in the business of oil exploration. The airline had a turnover of Rs. 40-45 crores in 2001-02 and the target for the next year with new aircraft is about Rs. 200 crores. Already, between Rs. 8 crores and Rs. 10 crores have been set aside for expansion.

Mr. Gupta does not see Jet and Sahara as competitors for the simple reason that he was not targeting their prime passengers. "I am coming as a supplementary airline. By now we know what market each airline has. We are creating our own routes to develop tourism and provide non-traditional connectivity". To a question he said he favoured non-entry of foreign airlines in the domestic sector and stressed that the Government should allow private airlines to fly out of India.

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