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Crown Express may start operations by April-May 

Rupali Mukherjee  
New Delhi, Jan 5: Crown Express has raised its paid-up capital to Rs 30 crore and has submitted other details sought by civil aviation ministry regarding the company's proposal to set up a domestic airline.

A top Crown Express official, while confirming this to The Financial Express, said the company hopes to get the no-objection certificate (NoC) from the ministry within this month and commence operations by April-May.

Sources said the details submitted by the company cover ownership pattern, equity base and appointment of a chairman as required by the government.

Crown Express request for a NoC got bogged down as the the ministry raised certain questions on its application.

In the detailed plan sent to the government, the company has raised its paid-up capital to Rs 30 crore from Rs 1 lakh earlier, and that the airline is promoted by Ms Nira Radia and her sister Ms Karuna Menon, the official said.

The managing director of the airline is Ms Radia. "CrownAir is strictly adhering to all the guidelines of the ministry of civil aviation. We are pleased with the comments of the minister and welcome their decision of allowing only serious players in the domestic aviation market. This will provide a credible alternative and benefit the consumer," CrownAir's vice-president (commercial) Kapil Kaul said in a faxed statement.

The company's board cleared the proposal of raising equity on November 22.Crown has indicated that 60 per cent of its equity will be brought in by NRIs, including the two promoters and their family.

For the balance 40 per cent, the company is in talks with Rabo Bank and other financial institutions and investors.

As per the government guidelines before the scheduled operator's permit is issued, an applicant shall have a subscribed equity capital of not less than Rs 30 crore and a fleet of minimum five aircraft by outright purchase or through lease. To facilitate the start of operations, operators will be permitted to operate three aircraft and can expand its fleet to five within a year from securing the permit. The airline may go in for dry lease of aircraft. According to sources, the company is in negotiations with International Lease Finance Corporation. Crown has already obtained approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and home ministry. After it receives the NoC for preliminary operations, the company has to obtain a scheduled operators permit before the airline services are launched.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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