The lure of investing in airlines in India has again gripped Singapore Airlines, despite a long and sometimes costly history of frustrations and disappointments for itself and other similarly infatuated not-from-India carriers down the years.
But this time Singapore Airlines appears to have the gigantic India conglomerate Tata as a partner in a 51:49 joint venture in which Tata, which knows everthing there is to know about power and authority in India, will provide the connections and Singapore Air will provide a lot of money. The fundamentals of the deal and prior events are glided over in this Reuters report.
Is this being unduly cynical? No. The reality of India aviation is that it is the air transport equivalent of a killer black hole feeding on all of the money, vision and hard work that passes too close to its gravitational force field to escape, and which is then dragged to its doom.
If anyone can navigate away from such a fate Tata would have to be well placed, and thus, well chosen by Singapore Airlines.
However Singapore Airlines isn’t alone in finding an India ally in Tata. It’s arch rival when it comes to investing in low cost ventures, Tony Fernandes at Malaysia based Air Asia, also has a deal with Tata, and whatever might be said about Air Asia’s various adventures and misadventures in pursuing a low fare franchise throughout Asia, he has made Singapore Airlines look very ordinary in its own efforts with its underperforming involvements in Tiger Airways since 2004.
No doubt looking on with interest at the Singapore/Tata engagement will be Etihad Airways, which has a pending 24% interest in India’s Jet Airways, which has been pending and pending for what seems like an eternity, which is of course how the passage of time might seem to slow to an observer able to approach a cosmic black hole, where it is time rather than light that is extinguished.
Someone, somehow, needs to make the airline game work in India on a scale befitting its astonishing and rapidly growing economy.