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Jet Airways now eyes world’s top five slot

Jet chief announces this road map during the anniversary celebration of his airline, report Lalatendu Mishra and Indulal PM.

business Updated: May 14, 2007 02:13 IST

India alone is small cheese for Jet Airways. It now wants to become one of the top five international airlines in the next five years. By then Jet hopes to have total revenues of $3.5 to $4 billion (Rs 14,350 crore to Rs 16,100 crore), with half its operations being overseas.

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal announced this road map on Sunday while celebrating the 14th anniversary of his airline as well as the induction of wide-bodied aircraft-- a Boeing 777-300 ER and an Airbus 330-200 - into his fleet.

“When we began our journey in 1993, the mission we had set ourselves was to become India’s first choice domestic carrier. We have largely fulfilled the mission," Goyal said at a gathering of corporate bigwigs and Bollywood personalities at the Mumbai airport. (In fact Jet Airways and Indian Airlines remain neck to neck.)

"I strongly believe that Indians can create and run an airline, which competes with the best in the world such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Cathay and Emirates,” Goyal added.

On the acquisition of Air Sahara, Goyal confirmed that the new name for the airline, Jetlite had been cleared. " Air Sahara will be launched as JetLite within two months. Currently, we are doing the route rationalization,” Goyal said.

He said $50 million would be injected into the airline for its revival. Since all of Air Sahara’s aircraft are on lease, Jet would acquire new aircraft to enhance its fleet. Earlier Air Sahara had ordered 10 Boeing 737 aircraft, which it could not buy due to its resource crunch. “We will exercise that right and acquire all the 10 aircraft. JetLite will have all economy class configuration and services will match Jet Airways’ standards,” Goyal added.

Contrary to common perceptions JetLite will not be in between full service carriers and low cost carriers. Its tickets will be priced in such a manner that the airline would not lose money. “We always work to maximise profits and we would like to do the same thing with JetLite,” he added.

He added, “Our objective is to become one of the best five airlines in the world and be the first choice airline on all the routes that we fly into and out of India in the next five years. We will also complement the new merged Air India.”

To achieve this Jet is in the process of acquiring 20 wide-bodied aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. While two have already arrived, the rest will be inducted soon. To fund this aircraft acquisition, Jet would be raising $400 million through a rights issue and the money will be raised in less than four months of getting board approval.

It has also made Brussels its European hub and will provide seamless connectivity to several European countries as well as from five Indian cities to different locations in the US and Canada. The prime minister of Belgium who is keen on developing the Brussels airport at par with other European hubs has pledged his support in providing Jet Airways the necessary assistance to achieve its dreams.

The Belgium government have offered Jet Airways to run a flying and engineer’s training academy in association with a local partner to create trained manpower for Jet’s own requirement as well as for other international carriers. “We will train 150 to 200 pilots at an already existing academy at Brussels and have identified a reputed trainer. It should be operational in 90 days,” Goyal said.

Apart from expanding its network in the US and Europe, Jet will aggressively set up base in Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Africa. By next year it will fly to the Gulf.

Jet has also chalked out a plan to start full- fledged cargo operation and the all cargo airline will be launched before 2007.