Sir Richard Branson wants to enter India's domestic aviation sector

Maverick British tycoon who beat BA, with his low-fare Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson, chairman, Virgin Group today said that his airline would love the right to enter India''s domestic aviation market, "but the market is currently protected".

Virgin operates a single daily flight to London from India, but if the market was opened up, "you will find Virgin competing alongside local carriers," he said.

Sir Richard, currently in New Delhi to mark the first anniversary of Virgin Radio''s tie-up with HT Media Ltd for a radio channel, also told the media that he had found an Indian telecom partner, but tantalisingly withheld disclosing its identity, saying, "I will reveal all in two months'' time."

Branson, who made his early fortune through a music retailing venture, Virgin Records, and then took on British Airways'' monopoly with Virgin Atlantic, said he has been waiting for India to relax its aviation policy that currently restricted foreign airlines from investing in the domestic air transport sector.

Kapil Kaul, chief executive, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said, India''s middle class population of 300 million made the country a huge market for domestic airlines and that. foreign airlines had been looking to enter India for the past 10 years."