Cathay Pacific not keen to invest in Indian carriers

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 13:00 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Wednesday said though the passenger carrier is buoyed by the traffic potential out of India, it is not interested in infusing capital into any domestic Indian carrier now.

"Currently we are not looking at investments into any of the Indian airlines. Our business model is not allowing for the same," Tom Wright, general manager, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, told IANS.

Wright was speaking at the sidelines of the airline's announcement of new business class cabin and its new premium economy class cabin on Delhi-Hong Kong route from Oct 29.

The airline's current stand on FDI is no different from many other international majors like Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and Etihad Airways who have said they are not keen on investing in India at the moment.

These carriers so far were not allowed to directly invest in Indian carriers for security reasons, although 49 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) by non-airline players was allowed. The government last month allowed foreign airlines to invest up to 49 percent in domestic carriers.

The airline said the increase in airport charges at the national capital's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport is detrimental to the growth of passenger traffic and hard on airlines struggling to maintain their margins.

"Such high airport charges are not with a long term view. Indian airports are some of the most expensive in the world and this is hard on us to grow passenger traffic and our margins."

On April 24, 2012 Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) had permitted DIAL to increase airport charges at IGI Airport like landing, parking, housing, fuel throughput and aeronautical charges by a whopping 345 percent for next two years.

DIAL was also allowed the airport operator to collect Rs.200 from departing domestic and Rs.1,300 from departing international passengers. The charges became applicable in May.

Meanwhile, the airline said that it was buoyed about the passenger traffic growth from India to several destinations like Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Japan in the Far East and other places in Southeast Asia.

"There is a tremendous potential for passenger traffic growth from India. We are seeing growth in all segments like business and leisure traffic. We are also looking at expanding our services to other Indian cities like Kolkata and Hyderabad soon," Wright said.

The company will be flying to Kolkata with four flights per week from Nov 2, 2012. The service will be operated from its subsidiary Dragonair.

The airline will enter the Hyderabad sector on its own with four flights per week from Dec 2.

The airline is also said to be looking at setting up its own lounge in New Delhi, as none of its "oneworld" inter-airline alliance partners has such a facility in the country.

"We are looking at setting up the lounge in India. This may come up in New Delhi," he said.

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