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SIA to acquire stake in Indian carrier if rules changed

india Updated: Aug 01, 2010 09:44 IST

Singapore Airlines has said it may acquire stake in an Indian carrier if the current rules are amended, but is not looking at such opportunities right now.

"Never say never. Challenge for us at the moment is to consolidate what we have today. ... When opportunities arise, we will consider it. It is not something that we are actively looking at right now," Philip Goh, the airline's Regional Vice President for India, West Asia and Africa, said.

He was asked whether Singapore Airlines (SIA) would be interested in picking stake in an Indian carrier if the present rules, which prohibit foreign airlines from doing so, are amended.

In 2000, the Tata group had partnered with SIA to acquire a 40 per cent stake in Air India, but the government later decided against selling equity of the state-run airline.

On its operations in India, Goh said the premier global airline was in the process of augmenting capacity on its India network, "matching capacity with demand".

"Till April this year, we were operating a capacity which was less than demand. We increased it from May and in June, we added two per cent more than that in 2009. We are matching demand with supply," he said.

"Our strategy has always been to have long and steady growth -- a balanced growth with improved experience for passengers. We have not only been expanding frequencies and adding flights, but also improving our product and services", he said.

Asked whether the airline had plans to introduce the superjumbo Airbus A-380 on the India route, he said "we do have plans. We cannot count out India, but the situation right now is pretty fluid. We will continue to monitor the situation (to launch A-380 flights). We will definitely consider it."

He said the A-380s were being acquired to "overcome slot constraints" as there are limited number of slots available for landing at various world airports.

Goh said India and other sectors would witness expansion in services in the rest of the current financial year. The new services would include doubling of flights to Tokyo from two to four from October.

SIA has ordered a total of 19 A-380s, of which it has already received 11. It has six more on option. The superjumbos are now being deployed on destinations like Hong Kong, London, Sydney, Melbourne, Zurich, Paris and Tokyo.

Describing India as a "fast growing and an important market", Goh said the country would play a significant role in the aviation sector in the next decade and added that the
Indian aviation industry had recovered "very fast" from the financial downturn in the past two years.

"We have been operating to India for 40 years and have expanded our operations significantly, particularly over the past six years. We will always remain on an expansion mode here," Goh said.