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Flight Raja Travels (Via) To Raise $100M For Global Expansion

Even as multinational travel companies such as Expedia are spreading their roots in India, domestic online travel agencies (OTAs) are expanding their reach globally.

After listing on the NASDAQ, Makemytrip.com is raising additional capital through a public issue to expand its operations. Cleartrip Travel Services is investing around $10 million in the Middle East market. Now, Via, a Bangalore-based online travel agency is attempting to raise $100 million to expand to more countries.

Wall Street Journal quotes Vinay Gupta, Co-Founder and CEO of Via as saying the company will raise $1 billion in the next 18 months to 24 months.

Besides India, Via is present in APAC, Middle East, Africa and North America. It launched as a business to business (B2B) travel platform but now offers bookings for flights, railways, buses and holidays to individual customers. The Via network currently reaches users in 1700 cities, through 50,000 offline and online partners. Even as various travel firms in the country are increasingly adopting a hybrid model to supplement online sales, Via announced at the recent e-commerce forum conducted by VCCircle in New Delhi that it has partnered with retail chain Shopper’s Stop to sell tickets. Speaking on a panel discussion on travel, Gupta had noted that online-offline partnerships are necessary.

Incorporated in 2007 as Flightraja.com, Via first raised $5 million from NEA Indo-US Ventures and followed it up with a $10 million round led by Sequoia Capital India.

Online flight and hotel booking is the top e-commerce category in India and has sprouted several domestic success stories, the top ones being Makemytrip.com, Cleartrip.com and Yatra.com. According to industry body Internet and mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the 2010 online travel market was at Rs 25,258 crore gross merchandise value and is growing at 50%.