Learnt about Tata-SIA venture in morning, says Ajit Singh

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh Thursday said he came to know about the joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines to start a full service carrier in India only in the morning.

"I was just informed this morning through a courtesy call" by the Tatas, Ajit Singh told IANS.

"They (Tata Sons and SIA) will apply to the FIPB (foreign investment promotion board). Apart from this, I cannot comment any further. The application will have to take its due procedural course."

Interestingly, in February Singh had suggested that Tata Group should start its own airline. He was then commenting on the tie-up between Tata Sons and Malaysian low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia and Arun Bhatia's Telstra Tradeplace to start a budget airline in India.

This is the third time the two business groups are trying to start an airline in India.

In mid-1990s, Tatas and Singapore Airlines had tried to start an airline. Then again 2000-2001, both the parties made another bid to take a stake in the erstwhile Indian Airlines. However, the deal never came through due to stringent foreign investment norms that existed at that time.

Informatively, India's first passenger carrier was Tata Airlines, which took flight in 1932. In 1953, it was nationalised and renamed Air India.

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