India aviation

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew over an infamous site as his aeroplane came in to land in Mumbai on Friday: a sea of tightly packed slums that runs right up to the airport’s fence, signalling arrival at India’s teeming financial capital.

Yet as he arrived to inaugurate the city’s gleaming new international terminal, Mr Singh hoped to clean up another stain on its reputation: the airport itself, and its dismal record of chronic delays and crumbling facilities.

 

Shares in Jet Airways fell as much as 6.4 per cent on Thursday morning before making a partial recovery, after the group reported its worst quarterly figures on record, according to Thomson Reuters.

The group posted a net loss of Rs8.9bn ($145m) in the quarter ended in September, almost nine times its loss a year earlier, just as Etihad Airways prepares to take a 24 per cent stake in the airline. 

What can Tata possibly see in this struggling sector?

For the second time this year, Tata Sons has announced plans to launch a new Indian airline. The illustrious group has joined forced with Singapore Airlines and put in an application with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, India’s FDI regulatory body. 

The proposed investment by Abu Dhabi’s state carrier, Etihad Airways, into the Indian airline, Jet Airways, has faced several roadblocks.

First, the problem was regulatory approvals. And now there are political rumblings. India’s not going to woo many foreign partners if this is how it treats wealthy investors. 

Shares in Jet Airways dipped more than 12 per cent on Monday morning on Friday’s decision by India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to defer approving Etihad Airways’ plan to buy a stake in the Indian airline.

They recovered later in the day to close up 1.3 per cent to Rs476.5 afte investors realised the delay was just that – a temporary glitch – and wouldn’t stop the deal going ahead. No problem, then? 

Has India’s airline industry finally turned a corner? Possibly.

According to a new report from CAPA, the centre for aviation, total loss made by India’s airlines was “only” $1.65bn in the fiscal year ended this March. While that’s still a big loss, it’s a marked improvement from the $2.28bn loss recorded in the previous 12-month period. 

After months in the pipeline, a deal has finally been announced between India’s Jet Airways and Etihad.

The UAE’s national carrier will pay Rs754.74 per share for a 24 per cent stake in Jet, valuing the deal at Rs20.6bn ($380m). It’s good news for both parties in the deal. But it’s very bad news for Jet’s main competitor – the state-owned Air India. 

Talk about trying to run before you can walk – or in this case, fly.

AirAsia is on the hunt for some tall, outgoing – and in the case of female applicants, fully made-up – air stewards to be “walking advertisements” for the brand in India. The company is beginning recruitment on April 13. Any snag? The airline is yet to get an aviation licence in the country. 

Having stood in maddeningly wonky queues in both Delhi and Mumbai airports, surrounded by large families with as many crying children as oversized bags, it is difficult to believe.

Three of India’s international airports have been ranked amongst the world’s best terminals compared with others of a similar size. It’s an improbable result for a country usually berated for poor infrastructure

Though AirAsia’s flamboyant chief executive, Tony Fernandes, seemed to have taken it for granted, it’s a groundbreaking decision for the industry.

The joint venture between AirAsia, the Malaysia-based budget airline, and Indian conglomerate, Tata Sons, has been approved by India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board. 

When New Delhi decided last September to permit foreign airlines to own up to 49 per cent of domestic Indian carriers, the aim was to encourage an infusion of foreign capital to help its heavily-indebted incumbent airlines strengthen their weak balance sheets – and expand their services.

But instead of a foreign lifeline, India’s air carriers are now confronting the prospect of intensified competition, after AirAsia, the Malaysian low-cost carrier, announced plans to set up a brand-new, start-up Indian carrier, with financial backing from India’s Tata Group. 

Luxurious homes around the world, highly collectable cars, a stud farm, some very classy yachts famous for their “king sized parties”… Anyone would be happy to get their hands on Vijay Mallya’s assets.

Now that his creditors have run out of patience and are calling in loans to Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines, some of them bearing the billionaire tycoon’s personal guarantee, you’d think a few of these playthings might be about to change hands. Well, maybe just a few… 

“Malaysian beauty in search of an Indian partner to start a family with.”

“Impoverished Indian gentleman with a battered reputation in search of a companion to set him back on track. Fair complexion, good family.”

India’s aviation industry is awash with lonely hearts in search of a partner. Tony Fernandes, chief executive of Malaysia-based AirAsia, and Vijay Mallya, chairman of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, may be a good match in terms of their flamboyant personalities – but that’s where the likeness ends. 

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways appears to have developed a taste for Indian airlines. Just last month, there were rumours that the state-owned airline was considering investing in Vijay Mallya’s grounded airline, Kingfisher.

Then on Thursday, Jet Airways announced on the Bombay Stock Exchange that it is in discussions with Etihad regarding a possible investment in the Indian carrier. 

IndiGo AircraftIt turns out cheap is, indeed, cheerful where Indian airlines are concerned.

According to a new global ranking, low-cost carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet expanded capacity by 34.6 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in 2012, while standard carriers Air India and Jet Airways trimmed back operations. The contrast is stark – and that’s even before the dormant Kingfisher enters the picture.