Singapore Airlines Ltd.'s long-delayed trip to India could be ready to take off at any time. As travel resumes and the carrier recovers from its record annual loss reported around this time last year, Chief Executive Officer Goh Choon Phong intends to continue a multi-hub strategy in which the company's airlines profit from demand outside of Singapore.
“India is obviously a very important one because it’s going to be massive,” Goh told Bloomberg News adding that he expects the country to overtake China and the United States as the world's third-largest aviation market by the middle of the decade, if not sooner.
For decades, the little Asian city-state has been drawn to this market. In the attempted privatisation of Air India Ltd in 2001, Singapore Airlines teamed with the Mumbai-based conglomerate Tata Group. Only last year did New Delhi ultimately sell the national carrier to Tata. Rivals from the Middle East attempted to break into India over that 20-year period.
Etihad Airways PJSC invested in Jet Airways India Ltd., the airline founded by Naresh Goyal, which went bankrupt. Qatar was told to start a new airline six years ago when it was negotiating for extra flights between Indian cities and Doha. Qatar Airways Ltd. has also announced the launch of a new short-haul airline for India.
Others, like Singapore Airlines' archrival AirAsia Bhd., with whom it created AirAsia India, dabbled with the Tata Group. Goh, who became CEO in 2011, stayed with Tata and bought a 49 % in the company's full-service carrier Vistara. Vistara has yet to make a profit in its seven years of operation, despite serving nine international destinations and 31 Indian cities.