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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
India gets new budget airline
Kingfisher says its airline stewardesses are all models
India's newest budget airline operates its first flight on Monday from Mumbai (Bombay) to hi-tech hub Bangalore.

The country has forecast that its airline sector will grow at 20% a year amid growing economic prosperity.

Kingfisher Airlines, which held a lavish launch on Saturday, is run by Kingfisher beer owner Vijay Mallya.

Models work as flight attendants on the airline while its planes have seat-back entertainment systems. Its rivals include Jet Airways and Air Deccan.

Competitive market

"We have extremely attractive and well-trained flight attendants," Mr Mallya, chairman of United Breweries, told Agence France Presse news agency.

"We have a brand new fleet of aircraft. We have individual entertainment systems where every single seat has video screen."

Airbus planes

Mr Mallya also predicted rapid growth for the airline, saying: "I will have 11 aircraft in the air by this year itself.

"We will have another six next year. By 2010, we should have 55 planes flying. My vision is to make Kingfisher the largest private sector carrier."

Other companies planning to enter the Indian aviation market in the coming year include Spice Air, Go Air, Indigo, Indus One and Air One.

Aviation minister Praful Patel predicts that passenger numbers will rise to 50 million in five years.

Air Deccan, which has been in the Indian low-cost air travel market for a year-and-a-half, responded this week by announcing fares as low as one cent.

On taking delivery of a new Airbus A320 in April, Kingfisher Airlines said in a statement it would introduce it in May and add a new A320-232 aircraft every month during the remainder of 2005.

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