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Kingfisher likely to pick up stake in Air Sahara: Mallya

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PLANNING HIGH: (From right) Mr Giovanni Bisignani, DG, International Air Transport Association (IATA); Mr Vijay Mallya, Chairman & MD, Kingfisher Airlines; and Mr V. Thulasidas, Chairman & MD, Air India, at a seminar in the Capital on Tuesday. - Kamal Narang
PLANNING HIGH: (From right) Mr Giovanni Bisignani, DG, International Air Transport Association (IATA); Mr Vijay Mallya, Chairman & MD, Kingfisher Airlines; and Mr V. Thulasidas, Chairman & MD, Air India, at a seminar in the Capital on Tuesday. - Kamal Narang

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Oct. 18

KINGFISHER Airlines is likely to acquire stake in Air Sahara but no decision on the details has yet been finalised, the Chairman of Kingfisher, Mr Vijay Mallya, told reporters here today.

Speaking on the sidelines of the CII meeting on the aviation industry, Mr Mallya said: "Air Sahara is raising equity and we are interested to take a stake. We have signed an Information Memorandum with them prepared by Ernst & Young. We are studying it for a part of the $100-million that Sahara plans to raise."

"According to the memorandum we are to give non-binding offers by the end of October," he said.

Earlier during the meet, the Jet Airways Chairman, Mr Naresh Goel, had denied that Jet is interested in taking stake in Sahara.

Talking about Kingfisher, Mr Mallya said the airline would start operating flights in category II and III routes from this winter. "We would be starting routes like Bangalore-Goa-Jaipur, Bangalore-Guwahati direct, Bangalore, Bagdogra etc," he said.

Asked about the DGCA directive to the airline for non-fulfilment of conditions regarding operations to socially important routes like Northeast, Mr Mallya said that "there had been a marginal shortfall. The Indian Airlines had reported a marginal shortfall. We have bought the rights from Air Deccan now." Kingfisher had purchased the rights from Indian Airlines earlier.

This is because according to the civil aviation regulations, all airlines have to operate on the socially important routes like the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, which may not be commercially viable, in order to get permission to fly abroad.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 19, 2005)
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