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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Branson in India-wide flights bid
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

Richard Branson in India
Sir Richard sees India as a major destination
Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson has announced he is keen to enter India's domestic aviation sector.

His airline began a thrice-weekly direct service between London and Mumbai (Bombay) on Thursday.

Virgin is not allowed to invest in India's domestic airlines but as an individual Sir Richard can invest in any Indian airline he chooses.

He made his announcement on his arrival in Mumbai on Virgin's inaugural flight there from London on Thursday.

Increasingly crowded

Sir Richard said he saw India as potentially the biggest overseas market for investment.

He said he was exploring the country's telecommunications sector with a view to bringing his Virgin Mobile company to India.

There has been speculation that he might invest in the domestic aviation market even though it is becoming increasingly crowded.

Sir Richard confirmed his interest in the sector, but said he was still looking at the right airline to partner.

He welcomed the arrival of new players - especially "no-frills airlines" - in the domestic business and said it would lead to healthy competition.

Sir Richard said it would eventually make domestic air travel in India a lot cheaper than it was today.

The Indian government has confirmed Sir Richard is free to invest as an individual.

Virgin Airlines already has a daily flight between London and Delhi.

The London-based entrepreneur said he was hopeful the Mumbai-London sector would also become a daily flight.

Sir Richard is visiting historical places in Mumbai during his two-day stay in the city.

He is also meeting the city's famed dabbawallas, who carry lunch boxes to office-goers.

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