CHENNAI-BASED AirAsia India is likely to start domestic services this October with initial flights to South Indian cities such as Bengaluru and Kochi.
The LCC, a joint venture between AirAsia Group, Tata Group and Telestra Tradeplace, has already applied for a no-objection certificate from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation and expects to obtain clearance for launch soon. AirAsia holds a 49 per cent stake in the airline.
AirAsia India will commence flights with its three existing Airbus aircraft and hopes to add 10 planes annually. AirAsia will invest US$30 million into the joint venture and offer low-cost fares in a market plagued by high fuel and airport costs.
Apart from domestic routes, flights to Gulf and African destinations are also on the cards.
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday, AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, said: “I am hopeful that we will be able to start operations from October. I think the market is now conducive for us to stay here for a fairly long time. India’s population of 1.3 billion offers immense potential to us.
“Considering that 50 per cent of the domestic air travel market in India is between Delhi and Mumbai, through our South India operations we will strive for equal distribution of air traffic.”
Welcoming the news, Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travels, said: “Allowing AirAsia to start domestic operations with Indian partnership is a very positive decision. At a time when air ticket costs are going up in the domestic sector, AirAsia, through better management of operations, could offer low fares.”
He said AirAsia flights would help to boost traffic to and fill beds in hotels in destination cities.
“With AirAsia’s upcoming operations, there is a mood of optimism in the Indian tourism scene and as tour operators, we feel we can offer better services and with happy clients, generate more business,” he added.