Mumbai: Nearly a year after shuttering services over financial problems, Indus Air, a tiny New Delhi-based, full-service airline, is trying to re-launch operations by tying up with Beijing-controlled aviation conglomerate China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp, or Catic.
The exact nature of Indus’ arrangement with Catic is not clear and it is unusual for a plane maker to acquire equity in an airline.
Indus Air, promoted by liquor company Mohan Meakins Ltd, is planning to induct Catic-made 30 MA60 type, 50-60 seater regional turboprop aircraft.
Krishna Gopal Beri, director of Indus Airways Pvt. Ltd, which runs the airline, said his company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Catic and has written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGCA, for renewing its national licence.
“We are awaiting a go-ahead from DGCA. Once we get that, Indus will be able to start operations in a month... We may also look at inducting Bombardier-type aircraft to get started,” Beri said.
The airline ran its old service with two planes built by Bombardier Inc.
“All necessary formalities for inducting the Chinese company have been met. We are waiting for the green signal from DGCA,” Beri added. Mint couldn’t immediately contact Catic for comment. Beri declined to provide details as also the capital requirement of his firm’s business.
A person familiar with the development, who didn’t want to be identified, said Indus Air has secured necessary financial assistance from the Chinese firm. “Though the plans are to serve markets such as Chandigarh, Jammu, Amritsar, Shimla, Lucknow, Kullu, Manali and Varanasi, Indus Air has plans to connect all India basis. Indus Air is certainly not looking at becoming regional airline,” this person said.
A senior ministry of civil aviation official, also requesting anonymity, confirmed that Indus Air’s licence was still valid. According to DGCA’s website, a licence to run commercial, scheduled operations was issued to the airline in November 2006.
An analyst working with a domestic brokerage firm said Indus Air’s re-entry into the aviation market comes at a time when airline seat supply exceeded demand by a large measure. “The success or failure of Indus Air is wholly dependent on the business model and the deep pockets it has,” he added.