Steel Tycoon Bids to Offer Commercial India Flights on Modi Push

  • Auction allows bids for scheduled flights to be operated
  • JSW didn’t bid under any of its listed entities, CFO Rao says

Savitri Jindal.

Photographer: Rajkumar/Mint via Getty Images

JSW Group, the Indian conglomerate led by billionaire Savitri Jindal, applied under a subsidy program spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve flight connectivity for small towns and villages.

The group made a bid in an ongoing auction process which will allow companies asking for minimum government subsidies to operate scheduled commercial flights to the country’s underutilized airstrips. The aim is to improve connectivity between the group’s plants, Chief Financial Officer Seshagiri Rao said in a phone interview Monday. The firm isn’t bidding under listed entities such as JSW Steel Ltd., India’s largest privately owned producer of the material.

Modi has promised tax breaks and waivers of landing and parking charges for some underused airfields in the world’s fastest growing aviation market, which is also among the costliest due to taxes and airport charges. The prime minister is trying connect India’s 450 airports and airstrips, mostly in smaller towns, by vowing to fund some of the airlines’ losses if they fly to such airports.

Shares of JSW Steel extended gains to as much as 1.6 percent after the news. They were up 0.6 percent at 188.15 rupees as of 11:25 a.m. in Mumbai, while the Sensex index was little changed.

JSW Group, whose businesses range from metals to power generation, also plans to venture into electric cars by 2020 on expectations the government will promote such vehicles and falling battery prices will make them more affordable, Chairman Sajjan Jindal said in January.

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