AirAsia India Preps for Maiden Flight

Saturday, 20th July 2013 at 01:51am

With an initial investment of US$30 million for its joint venture in India, AirAsia Bhd. is prepping up its local subsidiary, AirAsia India, for its maiden service by October this year.

According to its founder, Tony Fernandes, India offers a vast potential in the commercial aviation sector. The entry of its local subsidiary in the local market is a testament to the vision that he has for India during the early years of his airline business.

He revealed that he has long been eyeing India as the next location for the local operations of its low-cost airlines adding to its growing portfolio of local subsidiaries across the region.

The local subsidiary was originally scheduled to take flight this month but was indefinitely postponed until October this year. The new schedule will allow the airline to take enough time to prepare for its inaugural service that will connect the country's southern hubs.

AirAsia India has already chosen Chennai as the main hub of its Indian operations with initial connections to two other southern cities, Bangalore and Cochin.

Tony Fernandes has maintained that the airline will focus on southern regions as these areas are largely underserved by air transport for many years. Needless to say, Mumbai and Delhi, two of the busiest routes in the country, are not part of the airline's domestic network, at least, for now.

The budget airline will have an initial fleet of 3 aircraft, all Airbus, for its maiden service between the three cities, adding 10 more planes each year, thereafter.

But with India's bizarre aviation regulations preventing local airlines to mount overseas flights unless it satisfies the prerequisites, AirAsia India will concentrate on local operations.

The current aviation regulations in India prevent airlines from expanding its network overseas unless it completes a mandatory five-year domestic operations and have at least 20 aircraft in its fleet.

Tony Fernandes called the aviation regulations as ridiculous and vowed to appeal to the government to change the policy which, he said, clearly defeats the country's goal to develop its aviation sector at par with Southeast Asia which he considers as a developed market.

He cited his one-plane AirAsia at its infancy stage when he was able to fly out of Malaysia to international destinations.

He minced no words when he called India's present aviation regulations as ridiculous and bizarre, very counterproductive and, therefore, preventing its aviation industry to develop.

The airline will launch its inaugural service, hopefully, by October this year from its main hub in Chennai to Bangalore and Cochin.

Tony Fernandes said that AirAsia India will not disappoint travelers as airfares will come cheaper than other low-cost airlines on the same route.

Mittu Chandilya is the CEO of AirAsia India.

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