Tata Group’s second airline venture with Singapore Airlines is now closer to take-off, with the joint venture receiving the mandatory security clearance for its board members from the home ministry, a senior civil aviation ministry official said.
New Delhi-based Tata-SIA is now expected to soon get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the civil aviation ministry before it reaches the final stage prior to take-off — getting an air operator's permit from the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “We are examining the home ministry clearance which we have recently received for Tata-SIA. It is being processed, after which the NOC will be issued,” the aviation ministry official said.
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Members on the board of Tata-SIA include Tata Sons nominees Prasad Menon (chairman) and Mukund Rajan, besides Mak Swee Wah, the director nominated by Singapore Airlines. While both partners will initially invest $100 million, Tata Sons will be the majority partner with 51% stake. SIA will hold 49%. The JV had received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to set up Tata-SIA Airlines in October last year.
The Tata Group's other airline venture, AirAsia India, is also waiting for an air operator's permit from the DGCA after flying in its first aircraft (Airbus A320) into its base at Chennai earlier this week.
In a separate development, civil aviation secretary Ashok Lavasa has said that the airport privatisation project will get delayed to after the general elections. The government plans to privatise six major airports, including Chennai and Kolkata, though the process has faced a series of problems, including a rejection of the Planning Commission's model concession agreement by the aviation ministry.
“The election commission has asked us to defer the submission of bids till after the model code of conduct is lifted,” Lavasa said.
Meanwhile, the ministry remains hopeful the election commission will grant permission for removing the 5/20 rule that has been sought by the aviation ministry. The rule prohibits any domestic carrier from starting international operations before five years of operations and having a fleet of 20 aircraft.