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Rediff.com  » Business » Ajit Singh open to any inquiry on Jet-Etihad deal

Ajit Singh open to any inquiry on Jet-Etihad deal

July 11, 2013 12:56 IST

Ajit Singh open to any inquiry on Jet-Etihad deal

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Aneesh Phadnis & Sharmistha Mukherjee in New Delhi

Rubbishing the allegation that his ministry went out of its way to facilitate the Jet-Etihad deal, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said he was open to “any inquiry” into the decision to increase air traffic rights to Abu Dhabi.

“We are open to any inquiry. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and Abu Dhabi on enhancement of seats was done in a transparent manner,” said Singh, when asked whether he was ready to face a central vigilance commission (CVC) or Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into this controversial issue. 

Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Nishikant Dubey had complained to the CVC and written to the Prime Minister alleging conspiracy behind the deal.

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Image: James Hogan (L), chief executive of Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, Ahmad Ali-al-Sayegh (2nd L), a board member of Etihad Airways, India's Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh (C) and Naresh Goyal (R), Chairman of Jet Airways.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

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Singh also ruled out a rollback of the enhanced seat agreement and said the Cabinet note would be ready in the next seven to 14 days.

“The Cabinet always has that power (of review). It can review anything. But the Prime Minister’s Office has already said it has no problems with the MoU. We are not going to review the seat entitlements at all, and the Cabinet note would just incorporate the suggestions made by the PMO,” he said.

The civil aviation ministry signed an MoU with Abu Dhabi on April 22 to increase the seat entitlement from 13,000 a week to 50,000 per week.

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Image: Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal (L) and James Hogan (R) of United Arab Emirates Etihad Airways shake hands.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

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One the same day, Jet Airways and Etihad signed the deal under which the Abu Dhabi airline agreed to pick up 24 per cent in Jet Airways for Rs 2,060 crore.

Last month, the PMO wrote to the civil aviation ministry seeking modifications in the Cabinet note on the issue and kicking up a controversy.

The PMO subsequently clarified it was not washing its hands off the traffic rights issue.

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Image: Jet Airways.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

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“We had sent a Cabinet note earlier. Now the PMO wants certain changes. They (PMO) have suggested certain explanations,”said Singh.

He added that several MPs and other people have written letters to the Prime Minister. “In today’s political environment, he (PM) wants all these things to be addressed. Our note will explain how the MoU is good for the country,” he added.

Singh said there was “absolutely no opposition” to the enhanced seats allotted to Abu Dhabi from within the government.

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Photographs: Reuters.

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On the issue of Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) concerns over shifting of Jet’s revenue management office to Abu Dhabi, he said both the airlines will have to secure regulatory clearances.

Singh said his ministry, too, had raised concerns about the shifting of the office to Abu Dhabi.

“According to the rules, two-third of directors of the company have to be Indian citizens. Further, substantial ownership and place of business has to be in India and the effective control has to be in Indian hands,” added Singh.  He said FIPB will check if the shifting of revenue management office to Abu Dhabi violated rules.


Image: Etihad Aircraft.
Photographs: Reuters.

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