NEW DELHI – Low-cost carrier SpiceJet, which is mulling to expand horizons in the international airspace, has said that it wishes to have Tatas on its board to benefit from the conglomerate’s expertise. “We would love to have Tatas on board as whoever they would appoint as their representative would be an expert in the area and bring in good corporate governance,” SpiceJet executive chairman and CEO Siddhanta Sharma said.
Reasoning why SpiceJet would love to have Tatas on its board, he said, “If they put on board someone in any company, it would be an expert in the area and they would bring in good corporate governance. Tatas’ culture is the best culture in the country. They are pioneers in integrity and other areas.” Towards the end of 2006, Tata Group Ewart Investment had bought 7% in SpiceJet for about $17 million.
The investment did not entitle them a board seat in the airline. “When the Tatas invested in the airline, they made it clear that it was a purely financial investment and they said that they did not have sufficient resources to have a bigger role in the project,” said Mr Sharma. Meanwhile, SpiceJet is hopeful of earning full-year profits from the coming fiscal. It plans to scale up its fleet of 18 aircraft to 30 in three years. Asked if Spicejet is talking to the Tatas to put someone on its board, Mr Sharma said: “We are not pursuing with them. When we discussed in the past, they said they do not have sufficient resources.”
Dispelling speculations of stake sale by any of the partners in the carrier, Mr Sharma said SpiceJet has not been approached by anyone. He, however, said, “If any shareholder in SpiceJet decides to sell his stake, then only he will be the beneficiary and not the airline.”
Intensifying its plans for the aviation business, the Tata Group announced last month its investment in one of the biggest business jet ventures that placed orders for 50 aircraft worth over Rs 2,400 crore at the Singapore airshow.
The Tatas’ Indian Hotels announced a tie-up with Briley Group to form a private jet company BJets. Earlier last month, Tatas announced a slew of JV’s related to the defence aerospace field. They unveiled a plan to form a partnership with European defence and aerospace consortium EADs to bid for Indian army’s $1billion advanced tactical communication system project. Other JVs include a pact with Boeing to produce aerospace components in India and a contract with another US-based company to build the cabin for S-92 choppers.
Spicejet, on its part, also plans to fly to China, the gulf and Saarc countries latest by June 2010. Mr Sharma ruled out the airline going in for wide-bodied aircraft for global operations. The airline is in the process of setting up its own infrastructure for starting the cargo business. It has 120 daily flights at the moment.