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India woos foreign cos with new norms

India woos foreign cos with new norms”

The Indian government has allowed foreign airlines to have up to 49 per cent stake under the approval route in Air India subject to certain conditions.

As per the extant policy, the foreign airlines are allowed to invest under Government approval route in the capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, up to the limit of 49% of their paid-up capital.

Among the "disastrous decisions", Sen listed the "hasty merger" of Indian Airlines and Air India and "forcible procurement" of a huge fleet of aircraft from foreign companies through direct purchase at an in-opportune time thereby imposing on the company an "unbearable burden of indebtedness leading to loss".

Singapore Airlines will keep options open on disinvestment of Air India. For instance, 49 per cent stake in Indian airlines such as Vistara and AirAsia India are owned by Singapore Airlines and AirAsia Berhad respectively.

Last week, Leslie Thng, CEO, Vistara said that Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines have an "open mind" on the issue of the Air India disinvestment and that they will evaluate any potential business case therein.

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Air India ran losses for almost a decade after a botched merger in 2007 and has debts of around USD7.67 billion according to government figures.

At 86, the Maharaja is a hot bachelor for suitors from across the globe with an Indian connection, thanks to the government's move to allow foreign airlines to be part owners of soon to be privatised Air India. Doha-based Qatar Airways has long wanted to invest in IndiGo and more recently shown interest in having a domestic airline in India.

Foreign investments in Air India, including that of overseas airlines, should not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly.

Low-priced carrier IndiGo has stated its intention to acquire Air India's global operations, while Vistara's interest has been widely reported.

On whether it would be interested in Air India disinvestment, Emirates said it has no plans to buy or acquire any airline.

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