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Oct 28, 2012, 12.37 PM IST
How do you introduce a man who has started his first business venture when he was just 16, create over 400 different companies and tried to travel the world in a hot air balloon?
Below is the edited transcript of his interview to CNBC-TV18.
Q: Are you planning to buy any Indian aviation company, now with changed rules? Are you going to be the white knight that comes in and saves any of our beleaguered Indian airline companies?
A: Not immediately. From tomorrow, we will start London-Mumbai flights. We are already present on the Delhi-London route. Currently, there is an over capacity in the Indian aviation market which is hurting all the airlines. Sadly, it looks like one or two airline may die. As the rules have changed now we might partner up with someone.
Q: Has anyone approached you?
A: It has been fairly apparent in the press that some people would like Virgin to come in, but we are not in specific talks. I hope for the sake of the employees of somebody’s company a white knight comes and saves them.
But it could be for one or two of these companies to disappear and hopefully for those employees to get jobs in other companies. We have appointed some employees recently from one partly company that’s in trouble.
Q: Do you believe that it will be a market of low-cost airlines in India?
A: The will always be a market for quality airline and Virgin stands for quality airline.
Q: Do you think one of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make across businesses is the obsession with the front-end with little thought to the backend?
A: Yes, if a majority of your customers are going to be travelling in your economy class cabins, it is extremely unwise not to look after them. About 20 years ago, we were the first airline to put seat-back videos oto all our economy class seats and we were about six years ahead of anybody else.
Q: But that's what a lot of people in India attempted to do and they are sitting on a debt of about Rs 7,000 crore?
A: There are a number of different reasons why a particular airline had problems and I don't know the exact details. But I think having a separate policy for people travelling in the economy needs to be a thing on of past. I don't think the airline industry has to just become one big unpleasant bus service.
Q: What else interests you in India? Your attempt to foray into the mobile market with a joint venture with the Tatas hasn't gone according to plan. What can we expect from the Virgin Group as far as India is concerned?
A: We have looked at and expanded in a lot of other countries around the world and we haven't expand in India because of the laws that have existed until now. But going forward, there's a lot more flexibility for overseas companies to partner with Indian companies.
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