Buying stakes in legacy airlines not an option: Oman Air CEO

At separate press events in India and Singapore this month, CEO Paul Gregorowitsch addressed an impending open skies pact with India and plans to grow the airline's widebody fleet

Oman Air is looking to grow flights into India, but the carrier's plans don't include buying any stakes in airling Air India.

CEO Paul Gregorowitsch said the Gulf's history with buying stakes in legacy airlines hasn't born fruit. 

"As a businessman, you are far more eager to participate with a profit-making airline and not having the legacy of the state airline,” the Press Trust of India quoted Gregorowitsch telling reporters at a roundtable. “If you look at what the neighbouring Gulf airlines have done with state airlines in Europe, you see that those investments have been a complete failure.”

"Today we have no interest to make a bid for Air India or part of Air India. If it would come to it, we would team up with a promising proposition from a successful Indian airline than setting up our own or getting involved with an ailing Indian airline,” he added.

Gregoroswitch does, however, have an eye on adding to capacity within the country, a plan which involves growing its widebody fleet.

India's National Civil Aviation Policy formulated in 2016 looks to enter the country in reciprocal air service agreements with SAARC countries as well as those located within 5,000 kilometres from New Delhi.

"From information I have received in Oman, the Indian government has said it will consider agreements by 2020," he told reporters.

If that were to happen, Oman Air would be able to add beyond the capacity it wants to reach, provided there is investment in the country's airports.

"We have 27,405 seats, while we are allowed to have 28,000 seats between Oman and India," the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying. "In Mumbai, we are moving from double daily to triple daily. But while we have bilaterals, the infrastructure is quite difficult as there is only one runway."

By the end of the year, the airline will have added 6,888 seats to India. At the sidleines of an event in Singapore, he said demand and capacity had also grown on flight to Kuala Lumpur as well. Forward bookings from Muscat to Kuala Lumpure had increased by 39 percent after capacity had been grown by 21 percent he said, according to Reuters.

The airline has pushed to 2023 its plans to grow its fleet from 47 to 75 but could be swayed to move earlier if Airbus or Boeing come up with a winning offer.

“We have negotiations currently with Airbus and Boeing. If they have a good offer, we may take all, or we could have a mixture of Airbus A350 with the Boeing 787," he said.

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