Jet Airways to set up hub in Milan, expand network

April 3rd, 2008 - 11:35 pm ICT by admin  

(Round Up)

Mumbai, April 3 (IANS) Jet Airways, India’s leading private airline, is currently setting its sights over the European skies. The airline will establish its second European hub at Milan Airport, after Brussels, chairman Naresh Goyal announced here Thursday. Jet anticipates operating its flights to the US routes via this hub. Goyal said Jet would closely work with European carriers like Air-France-KLM-Alitalia to offer travellers seamless connections between Europe, the US, Canada, Africa and India.

However, the beginning of operations with Milan as a transit point is still being worked out. “We are still chalking out plans, as we are on major expansion,” he said.

Asked about diluting the promoters’ stake in the company, Goyal said he was not in a hurry to dilute promoters holding to 75 percent as per SEBI guidelines.

Earlier, Goyal planned to sell five percent of his equity in the airlines before the end of March to a private equity player. Goyal holds close to 80 percent in Jet through Tail Winds.

According to SEBI guidelines, his stake needs to be brought down to 75 percent.

Once the dilution of five percent stake takes place, Jet would go ahead with its $400 million rights issue. “We will bring up the rights issue at the right time,” Goyal said.

Jet is raising $400 million to partly finance its $2 billion aircraft acquisition.

In January, Jet’s board authorised the management to raise up to $800 million through qualified institutional placement and other modes, including the $400 million rights share issue.

As part of its expansion plans, Jet will start its daily direct flights from Mumbai to Hong Kong from April 14 and Mumbai to San Francisco from May 5.

According to Goyal, Jet has 33 percent market share on its British sectors. “Our Premiere class has almost 70 percent foreigners,” he said.

Goyal also hopes to carry a lot of Chinese passengers from Shanghai. “We are also planning to have Chinese in-flight entertainment and studying various aspects of Chinese culture which can be introduced on our flights,” he told IANS.

Besides this, Jet will also enhance its services to the Gulf, with the introduction of daily direct flights on Mumbai-Muscat and Kochi-Doha sectors from April 18 and April 21 respectively.

On this route, Jet will deploy Boeing 777-800 in two-class configuration.

From April 23, the airline will launch daily direct flights to Abu Dhabi from Mumbai and Delhi. “The launch of Jet Airways operations to Abu Dhabi is important boost for us, as it is our first foray in the United Arab Emirates,” Goyal said.

The airliner is already operating daily direct flights on the Kochi-Kuwait-Kochi, Kochi-Bahrain-Kochi, Mumbai-Bahrain-Mumbai and Delhi-Kuwait-Delhi routes.

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