India's struggling airlines are carrying a great deal of excess baggage, with debts rocketing to nearly US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn).
High taxes on jet fuel and a weak rupee have proved to be major headwinds for the country's once booming aviation industry.
"Airlines are struggling," says Sharan Lillaney, an aviation analyst at Angel Broking, pointing to the problems at Kingfisher and Air India. "All airlines have started doing discounts to gain market share."
Spiralling operating costs mean that it is difficult for carriers to service their debts.
"The listed private airline companies collectively have debt of around $7.2bn," analysts at Macquarie highlighted in a recent report. "The government-owned airline, Air India, alone has around $10bn in outstanding debt."
Indian airlines are expected to post a combined loss of $1.3bn to $1.4bn in the financial year ending next March, according to the industry consultant Capa Centre for Aviation.
With the sector being in dire need of cash, the government's announcement last month that it would allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent in private Indian carriers is a positive move.
Previously, foreign investors were allowed to buy stakes in India's airlines, but overseas carriers were not.
For Kingfisher, which is owned by the Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, the change may have come too late. In the past week, the airline has grounded flights as staff went on strike because of unpaid salaries, which stretch back nearly seven months.
Mr Mallya's carrier, which has never turned a profit since its launch in 2005, is in talks with foreign airlines, but there has been no word of what parties are interested and the size of the stake up for grabs.
Analysts point out that Kingfisher is not an attractive investment, given that the airline has scaled down its operations dramatically, cutting international routes to reduce costs.
"Why would anyone throw good money after bad in Kingfisher?" says Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.
For the industry as a whole, the journey may be turbulent, but the destination is enticing.
There is enormous potential in India for the aviation sector in the longer term, given the country's population of more than 1.2 billion and its growing appetite for travel.
There have already been promising signs.
SpiceJet and Jet Airways both reported profits in the first quarter of this financial year following several quarters of losses.
"I think aviation will take off," says Mr Lillaney. "I think it will see one of the highest growths in any industry."
He also believes that investors "would be crazy to miss such an opportunity".
"If you don't have the first mover's advantage, I think you're going to lose out," he says.
Carriers from the Arabian Gulf are perhaps the most likely investors.
"If you see the flows of traffic, it goes more towards the Gulf and South-East Asian countries," says Mr Lillaney.
The budget airline SpiceJet is already in the very early stages of discussions with Arabian Gulf carriers about potential investments.
"In our view, SpiceJet would be the biggest beneficiary of the current move of the government," according to Kotak Institutional Equities. "The company could provide an attractive entry point for a foreign airline given it has [about an] 18 per cent share of the domestic market and a relatively unimpaired balance sheet."
Still, airlines that want to invest will face the various complexities of the Indian aviation system.
"It's a long-term procedure," says Mr Lillaney. "It's not something that is going to happen in the next one month or so. There's a lot of due diligence, there's a lot of policies to be taken care of, a lot of taxation issues.
"India has one of the highest tax rates on fuel. That's the main problem that these airlines are not comfortable with. There are issues, but nothing that cannot be sorted out."
Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways welcomes the move by the Indian government.
"The Indian aviation industry offers tremendous potential, with significant passenger movement on domestic and international sectors," Etihad said.
"Etihad Airways has identified equity investments in other airlines as an important evolution of its successful partnership strategy. Such investments will be made where Etihad Airways believes the commercial prospects are strong [and] where there are like-minded business philosophies."
Emirates Airline, meanwhile, says that it is not looking at acquiring a stake in an Indian airline.
"Emirates has no plans to acquire a stake in another airline in India or anywhere else," says the Dubai carrier. "We are busy focusing on the many aspects of our own growth including the launch of flights to five new destinations in as many months."
Kotak sees the Indian government's move is a "good start".
"Even as the move is incrementally positive, we believe it is unlikely to solve problems of debt-laden Indian carriers [and Indian banks]," Kotak said. "More reforms are needed to rationalise taxes on fuel so as to make the sector operationally viable - in that case capital would have automatically come."
Capa also stressed that the effects of the reform will take time to filter through.
"It should also be noted that the results are unlikely to be immediate," the organisation said. "The balance sheets of most of the incumbent carriers are relatively weak, and the sector faces numerous structural challenges, so foreign airlines will make their own assessments about whether they consider a carrier to be a suitable investment at this time. Just because they are now allowed to invest does not necessarily mean that they will."