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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Subramanian Swamy wants investigation into Jet-Etihad deal

MUMBAI: After the Parliament standing committee on Transport Tourism & Culture raised concerns on the Jet-Etihad deal, Janta Party chief Subramanian Swamy has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking a probe into the issue. Swamy has said that he may move the Supreme Court against the deal if no probe was ordered by the PM. The Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways recently agreed to infuse Rs 2,054 crore into Jet Airways which would help the foreign carrier expand its limited footprint in India. The letter, dated May 29, states that the deal has two components, which enables Etihad to become entitled to Bilateral Air Services that vastly enhances its air traffic, measured by seat capacity, between the UAE and India. And, second of arbitrarily determined entitlement, that tantamounts to free provision of India's sovereign airspace to a foreign airline which has serious security implications. A memorandum of understanding between the Government of India and the UAE have facilitated these provisions, says the letter. Last month, the Parliament Standing Committee led by CPM Leader Sitaram Yechuri in its report had said that the bilateral agreement (between India and the UAE) are not in the national interest. The committee had also recommended penalising Jet Airways for clandestine sale of its London route entitlement to Etihad even before the deal was sealed, which the report said was done without informing the government. "If you (Prime Minister) do not order a comprehensive review of these two interlocking agreements i.e., [1] between GoI and UAE of use of air space for flights and seats offered and [2] purchase of Jet Airways' equity, you will be directly responsible for an arbitrary and unreasonable deal in which windfall gains will be made by private and foreign parties at the cost of the nation without any public interest," Swamy said in his letter. "If you decide to direct a review of these two aforesaid agreements, I shall be happy to assist your government in the entire matter. Otherwise, aggrieved by your disregard of public interest, I shall approach the Supreme Court by way of a Public Interest Litigation," the letter added. Reports ET Bureau Jun 3, 2013

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