SIA seeks expansion with shift to India

SIA seeks expansion with shift to India

SINGAPORE - Almost 13 years after pulling the plug on its last attempt to enter the Indian market, Singapore Airlines (SIA) is taking another stab at the country again by teaming up with the Tata Group as part of a broader strategic shift.

Sources said that the management, led by low-profile chief executive Goh Choon Phong, is pushing ahead with a "portfolio" strategy that revolves around increasing the company's exposure in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific and low-cost markets.

By diversifying its revenue streams and creating new ones, like the Indian joint venture, Mr Goh and his team plan to reduce SIA's dependence on the flagship carrier over the medium term, according to investors and analysts.

Last week, the two companies applied to set up a new New Delhi-based full-service carrier, pledging a combined US$100 million (S$125 million) to get it going. This follows an unsuccessful attempt to do the same in the middle of the 1990s and a failed attempt to buy state-owned Air India in 2000.

The new carrier, if approved, will initially serve the 1.2-billion-strong Indian population. Barring no political or regulatory obstacles, it could be airborne in about a year.

SIA, which will have a 49 per cent stake in the carrier, will be banking on its success.

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