Founder of IndiGo Rakesh Gangwal on Thursday said entering a joint venture with the government over Air India will be a “very difficult proposition”. The airlines had expressed interest in buying Air India’s international business, soon after the Centre had approved the privatisation of the national carrier and its five subsidiaries on June 28.
Gangwal and co-founder Rahul Bhatia addressed financial analysts and investors on a conference call on Thursday to answer their queries in the matter. Gangwal said a joint venture maybe a “good model”, but the company cannot bring value to that proposition.
“From our perspective as a corporate entity with public shareholders...we would not go down a path where there would be a joint venture or even a minority or majority stake which the government would own,” he said.
Gangwal further said that if a foreign airline bought Air India’s international assets, it would only help the economic interests of that entity to grow. “If the international assets of Air India actually get acquired by a state-owned entity, it potentially could play out as a Shakespearean tragedy,” he said, adding that it was about time IndiGo entered the “long-haul international market”.
Bhatia explained that the company was only interested in buying Air India’s international operations and Air India Express, which would also help the carrier become a major international player. “Air India’s international operations would bring a very important element to our network,” Bhatia said, according to The Economic Times. “It will provide rapid entry into restricted, and in some cases, closed international markets.”
Air India, which has a fleet of 140 planes, flies to 41 international destinations. The airline is saddled with a debt of around Rs 46,500 crore, and the state-owned carrier has not made any profit in the last decade.
IndiGo has a 40% market share and projected profitability for nine consecutive years.