Ratan Tata, former chairman of the Tata Group, has declined an invitation from the aviation ministry to deliver the keynote address at the India Aviation air show to be held in Hyderabad next month.
Aviation secretary Ashok Lavasa had extended the invitation to Tata in a letter dated January 7 to "deliver the keynote address at the inaugural session of the event to be held in the morning of March 12".
India Aviation 2014 is to be held from March 12-16. Sources said Tata had citied prior commitments while turning down the invite, and former bureaucrat SS Sidhu has since been roped in to deliver the keynote.
The US is the partner country at the event.
The Tatas are pioneers in the Indian aviation industry with JRD Tata starting Tata Airlines — later renamed Air India — in 1932. The Tata Group is on the verge of launching a low-cost airline in partnership with AirAsia, and a separate full-service carrier with Singapore Airlines.
Tata and Singapore Airlines had first attempted to launch a domestic carrier in 1995, but the project failed to take off due to a change in civil aviation policy that barred foreign carriers from holding stakes in domestic airlines. In 2000, the two bid for a stake in Air India but later withdrew the offer.