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Air India-Vistara merger remains on course, says Singapore Airlines

Once the merger is complete, Singapore Airlines (SIA) will have a 25.1 per cent stake in Air India

Air India-Vistara merger remains on course, says Singapore Airlines

Vistara Airlines (PTI)

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines on Tuesday said the proposed merger of Air India and Vistara "remains on course" and is subject to approvals from regulators as well as competition authorities in several jurisdictions.

Once the merger is complete, Singapore Airlines (SIA) will have a 25.1 per cent stake in Air India. Currently, Singapore Airlines owns a 49 per cent shareholding in Vistara and the remaining 51 per cent stake is with the Tata Group.

"The proposed merger of Air India and Vistara remains on course, with the Competition Commission of India approving the transaction in September 2023.

"It remains subject to foreign direct investment approval, as well as approvals from other regulators and competition authorities in several jurisdictions including those from India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Civil Aviation, and National Company Law Tribunal, and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore," SIA Group said in a release on Tuesday.

While announcing the group's financial performance for the first half of the financial year 2023-24, SIA also said that when the merger is complete, it will get a 25.1 per cent stake in an enlarged Air India Group with a significant presence in all key Indian airline market segments.

India is one of the world's fastest-growing civil aviation markets and Air India, which was acquired by Tata Group in January 2022, has embarked on an ambitious revival and expansion plan.

In the first half of the 2023-24 fiscal, SIA Group reported a 55.4 per cent jump in net profit to SGD 1,441 million from USD 927 million in the year-ago period.

Its total revenue jumped 8.9 per cent to SGD 9,162 million from SGD 8,417 million in the same period a year ago.

As of September 30, the group had an operating fleet of 202 aircraft comprising 195 passenger aircraft and 7 freighters. SIA’s operating fleet comprised 140 passenger aircraft and 7 freighters while Scoot had 55 passenger aircraft.

The Group has 96 aircraft on order.

Industry-wise, SIA said robust demand for air travel continued into the Northern Summer travel season, led by the rebound in passenger traffic to North Asia with the full reopening of China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, and Taiwan.

SIA and non-frill carrier Scoot carried 17.4 million passengers in the first six months of the current fiscal, an increase of 52.3 per cent year-on-year. Passenger traffic grew 38 per cent from a year before.

"For the Northern Summer 2024 operating season (31 March 2024 to 26 October 2024), SIA will ramp up services to destinations across its network. This includes restoring Airbus A380 services to Frankfurt, deploying widebody Airbus A350-900 medium-haul aircraft to Cairns and Male, and reinstating direct services between Singapore and Barcelona.

"Flight frequencies will be increased to reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels across multiple points. These include Ahmedabad (India), Beijing and Shanghai (China), Copenhagen (Denmark), Da Nang (Vietnam), Darwin, Melbourne, and Perth (Australia), Dubai (the United Arab Emirates), Tokyo-Haneda (Japan), and Seattle and Houston (the United States of America)," the release said.

According to SIA, the demand for air freight remained soft due to inventory overhang, as well as geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds. Increased competition and softer demand also contributed to the downward pressure on cargo yields, which fell by 46.2 per cent from a year before, it added.

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