Already, top officials of Jet Airways and Etihad have met the Union civil aviation and commerce ministries to discuss the deal. The two airlines have a codeshare agreement wherein they can sell tickets on each others flights.
After the government liberalised the FDI norms last year, allowing overseas carriers to pick up to 49% stake in domestic airline companies, Etihad will most probably become the first such entity to enter into such an agreement.
Etihad, the UAE-based airline, has a history of picking up minority stakes in airlines across the globe. It owns 10% stake in Australian airline Virgin Australia, 2.89% stake in Ireland-based Aer Lingus, 40% stake in Air Seychelles and 29.1% stake in German carrier Air Berlin. Queried about Kingfisher Airlines, Singh said that he had no update on the issue. The Vijay Mallya-controlled airline has totally grounded its operations laden with heavy debts with majority of its employees not being paid their salaries. Kingfisher Airlines has been making all efforts to revive its operations but to no avail as no investor is interested in the company given its precarious balance sheet position and huge debt obligations.
On the delayed salaries for the staff of Air India, the minister said that all the employees have been assured of their salaries.
He said in the next 10 years the Indian aviation sector would carry about 180 million passengers, of which 80 million will be international, from the current level of 60 million and 40 million, respectively. The minister said India remains one of the major aviation market s across the world and by 2020 it could become one among the top five.
He said the government has already approved the setting up of 15 new greenfield airports under the public private partnership model.
Our next focus is on providing air connectivity to remote and interior areas of the country by developing low cost airports and encourage the growth of regional airlines, he added.