Sahara In Talks With Bharti For Airport JV

New Delhi, June 29 | Updated: Jul 1 2004, 04:18am hrs
Jet Airlines and Air Sahara have swung into action immediately after the governments announcement that scheduled Indian airlines can acquire up to 10 per cent equity in Mumbai and Delhi airport modernisation projects.

Industry sources said Air Sahara is negotiating with the consortium led by Bharti Enterprises and Changi Airport (Singapore).

It is learnt that the two private airlines had initiated preliminary discussions with potential suitors even before the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) announcement on Monday.

The decision allowing Indian airline companies to pick up equity stake up to 10 per cent in the two airport projects has been taken on the basis of keen interest expressed by these companies in the projects, a civil aviation ministry source said.

In fact, in a position paper on civil aviation policy presented to civil aviation minister Praful Patel on June 15, Jet Airways had stated: Development and modernisation of metro airports should be accelerated. Airlines should be allowed to contribute in this process with at least 10 per cent equity participation.

When contacted, a Jet official confirmed that the airline was negotiating with various potential partners. But at this stage we are unable to disclose the names, he added.

Air Sahara is keen on taking equity participating in the two airport projects. Negotiations are on with potential partners, a Sahara official said.

When contacted a Bharti-Changi consortium official said: We do not want to comment on the inclusion of any new partner or advisor in the consortium.

Terming it a strategic move for Indian scheduled airlines, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) senior vice-president, Indian sub-continent, Kapil Kaul added: Both the airlines are expanding their network and internationalising their operations. Picking up an equity in the two major airports is certainly a rational move.

Jet had argued in its position paper that Since domestic airlines are users they understand the specific requirements and problems faced by users at airports better than non-airline investors.