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SpiceJet rules out making a move for Air India

SpiceJet has ruled out making a move for Air India, as the state-owned flag carrier undergoes privatisation this year.

Speaking to FlightGlobal, SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh says the low-cost carrier has its own "massive" expansion plan and wants to stay focus on its own growth.

"Air India is a great brand and great potential but is out of our league," he says, adding that SpiceJet is a "very small" company.

The carrier has 60 aircraft in service, comprising 38 Boeing 737 NGs and 22 Bombardier Q400s, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. It is also set to grow exponentially with 167 aircraft (122 737 Max 8s, 20 737 Max 10s narrowbodies and 25 Q400s) on order.

Singh also shares that there may no longer be a place for state-run airlines in today's aviation industry.

"In this competitive business to operate within the constraints of government rules and procedures is very, very difficult. An airline like Air India, no matter how good the management may be, because of the processes they have to follow for everything that they might want to procure, they have to set up a committee, put up a tender process, takes a long period of time. By which time, technology could have changed or circumstances might have changed and you have to start the process again," he explains.

"Decisions that we can make across the table, take several months at Air India. This makes them inherently un-competitive."

On its part, SpiceJet is "looking seriously" at flying to destinations beyond the seven hour mark. Singh shares it is studying further international expansion and keen to reach more destinations within Southeast Asia, as well as to make its first foray into Europe.

FlightMaps Analytics shows that SpiceJet predominately operates domestic services, although its network also reaches Bangkok, Dubai, Muscat, Kabul, Colombo and Male.

IndiGo has so far indicated that it would be interested in buying Air India's international operations and low-cost unit, Air India Express. There has also been speculation that the Tata Group, which owns majority stakes in AirAsia India and Vistara, is also interested in bidding for the flag carrier.

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