The Star Alliance has set a new target of 2015 for Air India to join its ranks following a unanimous vote by member airlines to restart the process of integrating the Indian flag carrier. The alliance suspended integration in 2011 on grounds that Air India had “not met minimum joining conditions agreed in December 2007.” With signs of stability and fleet rationalization, however, Star has agreed to give Air India a second chance.
Economy of India
India’s Mahindra Aerospace inaugurated a 270,000-sq-ft aerostructures manufacturing plant last week at the Narsapura Industrial Estate near Bangalore. The plant opening accompanied an announcement by Mahindra that it signed a technology partnership agreement with Spanish Tier 1 supplier Aernnova Group, the first for Aernnova with an Indian aerostructures manufacturer.
The death knell for India’s Kingfisher Airlines sounded as lender banks took possession of the airline’s 25,850-sq-ft headquarters property in Mumbai on August 10. Carrying some $1 billion in outstanding debt, liquor tsar Vijay Mallya and his United Breweries Group have seen wholly owned Kingfisher accumulate $2.6 billion in losses since its launch in 2005. Most recently, it registered a loss of $188 million for the quarter running from April to June.
India has decided to reduce the advance-application requirements for foreign-registered aircraft to enter the country from seven to three business days for landing permits, and from three days to one business day for overflights. The move is a significant breakthrough for business aircraft operators, who have long complained that Indian bureaucracy has undermined the flexibility they seek to deliver.
The AgustaWestland deal in India for AW101 helicopters that is being investigated after bribery allegations has prompted the Indian government to re-examine its already delayed defense procurement procedure 2013 (DPP). This is now focusing on “indigenization,” which defense minister A.K. Antony described recently as the “ultimate solution to the scourge of corruption.”
The Indian government’s new budget, released on February 28, brought little relief for the country’s ailing air transport sector, although the industry awaits a possible announcement of some reduction in high aviation fuel taxes. In particular, the budget documents made no mention of hoped-for fiscal support for India’s emerging regional airline industry.
The withdrawal of Kingfisher Airlines’ domestic airport slots and international flying rights by India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation on February 25 could make a phased restart of the carrier even more challenging. Meanwhile, authorities have de-registered 13 of the 37 aircraft parked in India, but airports haven’t allowed lessors to claim their assets until Kingfisher pays pending dues totaling $72 million.
“[Kingfisher has] to give some guarantee [to pay], said Airports Authority of India chairman V.P. Agrawal. “Bank checks worth $21 million…bounced. A legal issue is going on.”
India’s fastest growing and most successful airline–budget carrier IndiGo–has become the first victim of an October ruling by the country’s aircraft acquisition committee governing the number and kind of aircraft imported by airlines to encourage regional connectivity to smaller towns. In November the committee, led by civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, cleared for import only five of the 16 Airbus A320-series aircraft Indigo wanted to acquire.
Mahindra Aerospace, currently India’s only manufacturer of light aircraft for private/utility use, is preparing to open its new 270,000-sq-ft facility near Bangalore. This will be used for manufacturing metal components, aircraft assemblies and aerostructures, according to executive director and global CEO Arvind Mehra.
Business for general aviation providers in India is generally slow as the economy shows signs of slackening, yet 60-year-old Mumbai-based Air Works Engineering is looking at innovative ways to expand its business in India and abroad.
- Page 1