AirAsia to start India ops with 3 aircraft later this year
Chennai: Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia today said its Indian operations should begin later this year with three aircraft for the southern region and it would also look at setting up some ancillary businesses in the country.
"I have always said we will start in the fourth quarter. People said September, October whatever. I hope we start this year. It is not about when we start. It is about we start it right. I mean no rush," AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes told reporters on his maiden visit to Chennai.
AirAsia has formed a joint venture with Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace with 49:30:21 holding to start its India operations.
"We haven't got the approvals yet and I still believe we can start this year. May be September is a bit ambitious. I do not want to commit a date. Really, it is on the hands of the regulators to give us all the approvals. We are at the NOC stage. The key one is NOC. No, we have not get the NOC. It is with the Union Home Ministry."
AirAsia is expected to bring in competitive pricing in the Indian aviation market with its "nano" airfares. To a particular query, Fernandes said Air Asia India will be the "Chennai SuperKings of cost" in offering airline services.
"We will start with three planes. We rather not say it now (the destinations). A quick way of looking at is Tiruchirapalli. There was never a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tiruchirapalli," he said.
"Come next week, there will be three flights a day. We have benefitted tremendous amount of people. So, we will apply tremendous amount of strategy to India and look at new destinations and markets that have been under-served."
To a query on roping in former Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, Fernandes said: "He (Tata) is one of the most respected businessmen in the world, not just in India. He is humble, simple guy. He fits our culture very well.
"He is very understated of what he achieved in India.
well, our strategy will be sitting down often with the senior management to map out the way we are going to take this airline. I want him involved."