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    Default Gopinath plans to start new airline

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    GR Gopinath, who introduced the no-frill airline concept in India by starting Air Deccan and sold it off later to Kingfisher promoter Vijay Mallya, now plans to launch another scheduled carrier.

    "I have got the clearance," Gopinath said but refused to elaborate saying he would speak at the right time.

    Gopinath, who now runs Deccan Charters started in 1997, received a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Civil Aviation Ministry almost two months ago to launch a new carrier.

    Getting the NOC is only the first step to get a license to fly. An applicant has to submit several documents relating to project feasibility report, business plan, company details, its ownership and types of planes to be flown. An operator can start a passenger airline with one plane, but has to induct five planes within a year of securing the flying permit.

    Gopinath founded the first no-frill carrier Air Deccan in 2003, which became the number two airline in terms of the number of passengers flown within two years.

    In 2007, Vijay Mallya's UB Group bought a 26 per cent stake in it and eventually completed a takeover after buying shares through an open offer.

    This deal had a five-year non-compete clause, the term of which would end in the next few months, industry sources said.

    A non-compete clause is a covenant not to compete. It is used in the contract law under which one party agrees not to pursue a similar profession or trade in competition against another party (in this case launching a competing airline).

    After Air Deccan sale, Gopinath launched a cargo service, Deccan 360, which did not do well. A plan to start a regional air transport service in Gujarat also did not take off.

    The Deccan Charters, which is operating now, has a fleet of 12 choppers and three turboprop planes, besides five private jets. It has a non-scheduled operator permit.

 

 

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