It may not be the best of times for the Indian aviation sector with most domestic airlines bleeding heavily but this in no way deterred foreign airlines to show their keenness to invest in Indian carriers.
The civil aviation ministry has got feelers from at least half-a-dozen international airlines since a draft proposal from the department of industrial policy and promotion for allowing 26% stake by foreign airlines in domestic carriers was circulated. Representatives of four top international carriers, accompanied by investors, have already met the aviation ministry brass and had detailed discussions on the issue.
The DIPP proposal has found strong support from various ministries including the civil aviation ministry, which till sometime back had favoured a 24% cap. India allows foreign investment of up to 49% in Indian carriers but foreign airlines are banned from investing in them.
Despite the fact that fiscal 2011 could well be the worst performing year for the sector with Indian carriers set to post a record loss of $2.5 billion, the world remains bullish on India.
Airbus (India) president Kiran Rao had told HT last month that the Indian aviation sector would be a "very strong business" in the long run and would surpass all growth projections.
"We are witnessing an annual growth of 15-20% making India one of the fastest-growing aviation markets," a ministry official said. "Any investment made today is going to pay off in the long-term and foreign airlines know this."