Dec. 18--NEW DELHI -- Tata Sons Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd have started to put together a team that will execute their new joint-venture airline in India, the South-East Asian airline's third attempt to tap the Indian aviation market.
Tata-SIA has now appointed several members of its top leadership team, said two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.
These include Phee Teik Yeoh, who is likely to lead the Tata-SIA project and is currently divisional vice-president (IT application services) in Singapore Airlines. Yeoh has been joined by Giamming Toh, who has shifted from his position of GM India for Singapore Airlines to the new team. Besides these, Singapore Airline's captain of the A330 fleet Mandesh Singh and Quah Lin, regional maintenance manager, will also help with the project, one of the two people said.
Singapore Airlines confirmed that a project team has been appointed but said it could not specify their designations or roles.
"A project team has been appointed which includes Phee Teik Yeoh and Giamming Toh. However, we are not able to share specific details about roles and responsibilities at this point," Singapore Airlines spokesman Nicholas Ionides said in an email.
Tata Sons will hold 51% and Singapore Airlines the remainder of the joint venture that will entail an initial investment of $100 million.
Tata-SIA has said it is targeting to set up the full-service airline in India by June. The airline will use New Delhi as a hub.
Tata-SIA has announced a three-member board: chairman Prasad Menon; Tata Sons brand custodian and chief ethics officer Mukund Rajan; and Singapore Airline's executive vice-president commercial, Mak Swee Wah.
On 24 November, Singapore Airlines said it has received formal clearance to invest in the Indian airline with Tata Sons from India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board, or FIPB.
Still, the joint venture is yet to apply to the aviation ministry seeking a no-objection certificate (NOC) to start an airline. That process is expected to take two-three months. It will take a further two to three months for the new airline to have the Directorate General of Civil Aviation certify its facilities and grant it an operating permit.
"We plan to submit the NOC shortly," Ionides said.
It is not clear which aircraft Tata-SIA will use to take on rivals Air India, Jet Airways (India) Ltd, IndiGo, SpiceJet Ltd and GoAir.
The first person familiar with the matter said the airline has talked about Airbus A320 flown by Air India, IndiGo and GoAir to start operations in its talks with government officials.
"Isn't that the most economical?" asked a person close to the Tata-SIA venture who asked not to be identified, referring to the A320.
The decision could be based on Singapore Airlines' subsidiary SilkAir, which uses the A320.
"As SilkAir starts taking deliveries of Boeing 737 next year, the A320s less than 15 years old may start to move to Tata-SIA. There are about 11 of them. I think Tata-SIA will use them to connect the 5-10 major metros, with mainly corporate traffic much like Kingfisher Airlines did. Good product, 2-class configuration, full service, et el," said a foreign airline executive, who tracks India closely, but asked not to be named.
"The question is around the international part. I think this will be phase 2. There are 2-3 thoughts around this. First, much like Scoot, Tata-SIA is likely to sub-lease at low rates, the 777-200 ERs from Singapore Airlines. They have 18 plus 11, a total of 29. Of this, six are currently being used by Scoot on dry lease. However, Scoot also has 788 and 789, 10 of each types, on order which will start arriving from November 2014," added this person. Scoot is Singapore Airline's low-cost long-haul subsidiary.
Copyright 2013 - Mint, New Delhi
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