Jet plans to move US administrative base to San Francisco

Jet plans to move US administrative base to San Francisco

Mumbai: Private carrier Jet Airways (India) Ltd is planning to shift its US administrative office from New York to San Francisco even as it plans to start services to San Francisco via Shanghai from Mumbai in the next three months and rival Kingfisher Airlines Ltd begins groundwork to start non-stop operations to San Francisco by mid-2008.

Jet Airways currently operates daily flights to New York from Mumbai and Delhi via Brussels.

The overseas administrative offices of an airline co-ordinates various functions such as marketing, sales and accounting.

“Our New York office would remain there. But some of the key administrative and account staff will shift to a new San Francisco office, which will be finalized in two months," said a senior Jet Airways executive, who did not want to be identified.

The idea is to have a better administrative control as the airline plans to launch its Mumbai-San Francisco flight, added the executive. Though the airline has not secured necessary approvals to start Shanghai flights, the same executive said that “it will come through shortly."

Victoriano P. Dunca, a Jet Airways director, will closely monitor the administrative office in San Francisco.

Billionaire Vijay Mallya, whose UB Group has promoted Kingfisher Airlines, has said that his airline aims to fly non-stop from Bangalore and Mumbai to San Francisco initially.

An industry analyst, who did not want to be named, pointed out that Jet’s move could be to pre-empt Mallya.

“Moving administrative office would be a sensible strategy for Jet Airways not only to strengthen its base but also save cost compared with New York. Mallya has strong presence in San Francisco and would be more with non-stop flights coming in," added the analyst.

The Jet Airways senior executive denied that the new California office was a reaction to Kingfisher’s plans.

Kingfisher Airlines is not eligible to fly international routes yet as the current civil aviation rules do not allow an airline with less than five years’ domestic operations to fly overseas and a proposal to dilute that rules is still pending with a group of ministers. But the airline’s parent owns a 46% ownership in Deccan Aviation Ltd, which runs low cost carrier Deccan, and this could potentially allow it to fly overseas in the middle of next year, when the unit would have completed five years of domestic flying.

Kingfisher, under Deccan’s rights, has sought government permission to fly to the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa, China, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka as well as some West Asian countries.