Seattle: Outlining an ambitious route expansion agenda for Jet Airways, its chief Naresh Goyal on 8 July said his airline was open for an alliance with state-owned Air India to enhance the market share for Indian carriers from the prevailing 20% to 50% in the next few years.
Noting that cooperative arrangements were needed to increase the market share of Indian carriers in terms of traffic in and out of the country, he told reporters that his company favoured such cooperation with Air India.
“We have agreed that the new merged Air India and Jet Airways must cooperate, not just go for alliances. Why can’t we have an alliance within India,” Goyal posed, adding that all sides would benefit from such an arrangement.
Air India has plans to join a major global alliance of airlines and has held advanced level talks with Star Alliance, which has Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines as partners among others.
Goyal was here for the rollout of Boeing’s Dreamliner 787 for which Jet Airways has placed an order of ten planes which will start joining the fleet in 2011. In addition to these planes, Jet has also placed an order for 10 Boeing 777 (Long Range), with two of these planes joining the fleet this month.
Elaborating his route expansion plans, he said the B-777s would be put on the North America route starting out of Mumbai first via Jet’s newly-created European hub in Brussels, Belgium.
Within a period of one year, the premier private carrier hoped to increase the frequency that will include the Chennai-Los Angeles sector and a Mumbai-San Francisco flight via China.
“Washington DC is also on my radar” Goyal said. “We would like to see Indian carriers’ market share come to be 50%. To do that we don’t have to be joining alliances.”
Stressing that cooperation would help Indian carriers compete with global airlines, Goyal said, “If it is a joint thing, we can go in engineering and maintenance together. We set up joint companies to compete with the rest of the world.”
Both Air India and Jet Airways have a similar fleet of aircraft bought from Boeing.
Goyal said he has already spoken with the Government and the reaction from Air India has been “very, very positive because it is a win-win situation.”
While welcoming competition in the aviation sector, the Jet chief said that it should not affect passengers. “I am very happy that there is competition. My concern is that any industry including aviation must remain healthy.”
Air India has ordered 68 planes, Jet Airways 40 and SpiceJet 30.
Besides, the Indian Air Force has ordered three Boeing Business Jets for VVIP flying. The delivery schedule is likely to be completed by the first quarter of 2013 and with a total cost of $20 billion.