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Virgin Airlines might invest in Indian carriers

New Delhi, Oct 26 (): Sir Richard Branson, who owns Virgin Airlines told the media on arrival here that he was waiting for the right time to pick up stake in Indian carriers.

The British billionaire landed here yesterday en-route to Mumbai where he would restart the Mumbai- London flight. He was speaking at the pre-launch party in the Taj Mansingh Hotel here. Commenting on the Indian aviation scene, he said that all of the operators are `bleeding’ but still they are bravely putting up a fight.

With Centre diluting their earlier rule, those foreign investors in Indian airlines should not have stake in any airlines and now allowing even foreign aviation carriers to invest up to 49%, Branson hinted that he was eyeing the market and waiting for the right opportunity.

The formal launch will be held today in Mumbai. Branson said that he felt bad for Vijay Mallya after his Kingfisher Airlines was grounded and commended him for going through a tough battle. He was happy to hear that employees got some pending salaries and this shows that Mallya is trying hard to get his airlines back to the skies.

Virgin Atlantic earlier outing in Mumbai was not so smooth. India witnessed an economic slowdown which hit the aviation sector too. High landing fees and tax on aviation fuel made Virgin Atlantic Mumbai- London route unviable. It decided to stop its operations from India but finally decided to maintain the Delhi-US route.

Virgin which starts its Mumbai- London-New York service, would make Indian passengers journey easy for those who want to move onward to US from London.

Branson said previously his airline did not have the right slots at Heathrow due to which it could not operate easily but that problem has been solved by which passengers can move seamlessly and go via London and beyond.

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, a flamboyant billionaire is said to be what our Vijay Mallya is aping – sporting similar hairstyle and French beard and like Branson getting photographed with pretty air-hostesses. Mallya however lost his membership in the billionaire club with his net worth dropping by $800 million.

Branson at the age of 16 turned businessman by publishing a magazine and today owns 400 companies under the brand name Virgin.