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ETA Star Group to invest in Indian airports

ETA Star plans to expand operations in India to complement its soon-to-be-established regional airline.

ETA Star plans to invest in airports in India to complement its soon-to-be-established regional airline, in spite of the turbulence the market on the subcontinent is experiencing. "We are looking at smaller airports, probably in India, for commercial travel," said VP Nagarajan, the executive director of ETA Star in Dubai, which also has interests in construction and shipping. "We've been looking at a few airports but there is nothing concrete for us just yet."

ETA aims to launch Star Aviation in the first quarter of next year from its base in Chennai, after purchasing 10 small passengers jets from Embraer of Brazil - part of its recent pledge to spend US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) on new projects for the Indian market. Currently, there were 45 active airports in Indian, 11 of which were international, Mr Nagarajan said. With rising incomes and an expanding middle class, India is a major target for the region's airlines.

However, a global credit crunch and rising oil prices have pummelled Indian carriers this year, with expected losses to exceed $1bn. "With these airport projects, we are not interested in it for today or tomorrow. but for the long term," Mr Nagarajan said, and professed confidence the market would "readjust" soon and begin making profits again. igale@thenational.ae

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