Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Air deccan may fly abroad

UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya announced that Kingfisher Airlines would fly to the US next year using the Air Deccan brand if necessary, should the Union ministry of civil aviation not relax the clause in the aviation policy that prevents domestic airlines with less than five years of operations from flying on international routes.

Air Deccan will be eligible to fly international routes by August 2008, while Kingfisher will complete five years only in 2010. Kingfisher and Air Deccan are exploring the possibility of starting co-branded flights to the US, connecting San Francisco to Bangalore and Los Angeles to Mumbai.

Mallya also said an application for the US operations was filed with the American Department of Transportation two weeks ago.

Later, talking to reporters on the sidelines of the summit, Air Deccan Chairman G R Gopinath confirmed Mallya's statement saying, "Deccan will help Kingfisher fly abroad."

He also confirmed the two airlines would opt for co-branding if necessary.

The UB Group has a 26% stake in Air Deccan and is in the process of acquiring a controlling stake in the carrier through an open offer, which will take its equity position to around 46%. Mr Mallya has publicly stated that he is also open to taking a majority stake in the airline, going beyond 51%. Significantly, this change of tack by the Kingfisher-Air Deccan combine comes at a time when the group of ministers, headed by Pranab Mukherjee, is reviewing the policy.
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