Jet-Etihad Deal Faces Fresh Trouble

June 19--MUMBAI -- Fresh troubles are brewing for the Jet-Etihad alliance as the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) is seeking public feedback on the commercial tie-up between the two airlines. India's Jet Airways (India) Ltd had sold a 24% stake to Etihad Airways PJSC of Abu Dhabi last year.

"CCS is inviting public feedback in relation to the proposed commercial alliance," CCS said in a notification, published on its website.

CCS is a statutory board, under the ministry of trade and industry, and has powers to investigate alleged anti-competitive activities and impose suitable remedies, directions and financial penalties.

Last month, Indian capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) exempted Etihad from making an open offer for acquiring a 24% stake in Jet Airways, clearing the last bottleneck for the first foreign direct investment (FDI) by an overseas airline in India.

India's anti-trust regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved the stake purchase by Etihad in November 2013.

Singapore's anti-trust body said the closing date for submissions of public feedback is on or before 11 July 2014.

"CCS received a notification for decision on 6 June, 2014, with regard to the proposed commercial alliance between Etihad and Jet. The proposed commercial alliance relates to the provision of international air passenger transport services (and associated support services), with a specific focus on the Singapore origin and destination (O&D) city pairs affected by the proposed commercial alliance," CCS said.

The notification is made in relation to section 34 of the Competition Act of Singapore which prohibits agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings or concerted practices, which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within Singapore.

"The proposed commercial alliance includes pricing, route and schedule coordination, marketing, code-sharing, networks, customer service and resourcing decisions between the parties," it noted.

Naresh Goyal-controlled Jet Airways's March quarter loss widened to Rs.2,153.57 crore, its fifth straight quarterly loss, from Rs.495.53 crore a year ago.

Jet Airways's board named Cramer Ball as chief executive officer of the company on 27 May. The airline has been without a full-time CEO since January. Acting CEO Ravishankar Gopalakrishnan resigned in April, becoming the fifth senior executive of the airline to quit since it sold a 24% stake to Etihad.

Copyright 2014 - Mint, New Delhi

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