New Delhi: Richard Branson, who controls UK carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, has sought permission to start a domestic airline in India, where more people have started travelling by air due to economic growth.
Branson told reporters in the Capital on Monday that he hopes the Indian government will change its rules on allowing foreigners to run local services. The billionaire did not elaborate.
India’s air passenger travel is expanding at about 25% a year, and at least six discount carriers have started flights in the country of 1.1 billion people. Growth in this sector will outpace the global average until 2025, according to government estimates.
Still, India doesn’t allow overseas airlines to hold stakes in local carriers directly or indirectly. In 2004, the Union government had raised the limit overseas companies, excluding airlines, can own in local airlines to 49% from 40%, to enable more investments.
The policy of not allowing foreign airlines in Indian carriers will be reviewed, government officials have said in the past, without giving any details.
Branson’s airline has domestic services in Australia with Virgin Blue, in the US with Virgin America and in Africa with Virgin Nigeria. Virgin Galactic takes bookings for proposed space flights.
Branson said he would make an announcement on a phone venture in India in a month’s time, without elaborating.