India's privately held Air Sahara is planning to raise funds for expansion through a private equity placement, although the company declined to say how much it wants to raise or what percentage of total equity will be issued.
Ronojoy Dutta, president of Air Sahara, said the company was looking at building partnerships with international and local private equity groups but expected other domestic airlines to also show interest.
"We're talking to various potential investors and business partners," he said, adding that the size of the equity stake to be sold would be determined in consultation with the investors. "We'll see what they're comfortable with."
The country's third-largest domestic airline said it would use the funds to buy new aircraft that would allow it to add routes outside the country.
Air Sahara, which currently operates 123 daily flights with 26 aircraft, recently started flying to Kathmandu, Colombo and Singapore, and plans to start flying to the US and the UK.
India's aviation industry is undergoing a period of rapid change following government liberalisation of the once tightly regulated sector.
Domestic airlines can now fly international routes that were previously the sole domain of state-run Air India while a slew of new budget airlines, such as Air Deccan and SpiceJet, has ushered in an era of cutthroat competition.
Recently, local newspapers reported that four-month-old SpiceJet planned to buy a 76 per cent stake in Air Sahara, which Air Sahara vigorously denied.
Air Sahara's adviser on the capital-raising plan, Ernst & Young, has estimated the company's enterprise value at $750m to $1.0bn.
The airline's domestic market share has fallen to 13 per cent from 17 per cent in the past year due to the popularity of budget airlines offering prices about 50 per cent lower than the full-service airlines. Mr Dutta said there were no plans to change the company's model as a full-service airline but said its prices had fallen as a result of competition.
Air Sahara, like its counterparts, was forced to cancel some of its flights recently due to a nationwide strike by airport workers over the government's plans to allow private and foreign investment in the New Delhi and Mumbai airports.
Under syndication arrangement with FE