New Delhi: Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya on Friday pitched for infrastructure status to the aviation industry, saying it would go a long way in enhancing its credit rating and banking arrangements.
“The Civil Aviation Ministry should persuade the Finance Ministry to grant the aviation industry the infrastructure status, instead of the service sector status which we have now,” the Kingfisher Airlines promoter said in a seminar organised by the Aeronautical Society of India.
Maintaining that civil aviation flew thousands of tonnes of equipment and passengers across the country on a daily basis, he said grant of infrastructure status would help the industry in its dealings with the RBI as well as the commercial banks, both in the private and public sectors.
“It will make an enormous difference in our credit rating and financial arrangements,” Mallya said.
Later talking to reporters, he claimed the Kingfisher- Jet Airways synergy to curtail costs was “working very well. We are coordinating in many ways. Obviously it is a process that takes time to unfold.”
Stating that he and Jet chief Naresh Goyal were in touch on the matter on a regular basis, Mallya said “since we do not announce anything (about the synergy process), it does not mean things are not happening. Two biggest carriers are synergising their operations to cut costs ...why should we not engage in such partnerships.”
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Civil Aviation secretary M. Madhavan Nambiar, former Air India CMD V. Thulasidass, director general of Civil Aviation Nasim Zaidi and his predecessors K. Gohain and Satinder Singh were present at the seminar among several top aviation officials.
On Kingfisher’s global plan, Mallya said the airline would launch services to Hong Kong and Singapore as soon as its aircraft were ready.
“We will do our Hong Kong and Singapore services gradually. The aircraft are not ready. As soon as they are ready, we will introduce these flights,” he said. The new flights from Mumbai and Bangalore to London were doing “very well” with over 75% load factors.
Asked about allowing investment by foreign airlines in Indian carriers, Mallya, who had strongly advocated the proposal, said he would comment only after the government takes a decision on the issue.
But SpiceJet CEO Sanjay Agarwal welcomed such a move saying it would make the aviation industry in India more competitive. He, however, maintained that SpiceJet did not need any financial investment. “If other airlines are in pursuit of funds, it will certainly be a good move for them.”
A proposal to permit foreign airlines to pick up stake in domestic carriers is among the several measures being considered by the government to help the Indian aviation industry overcome the financial crunch, Civil aviation minister Praful Patel recently said.
At the seminar, the former Air India chief also advocated more government backing for the industry to overcome the ongoing financial turbulence owing to global financial meltdown as well as high jet fuel prices.