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New airline AirAsia India granted flying licence by DGCA


After a long wait and legal hurdles, new airline AirAsia India was today granted the flying licence by aviation regulator DGCA
AirAsiaNew Delhi: After a long wait and legal hurdles, new airline AirAsia India was today granted the flying licence by aviation regulator DGCA, subject to the final outcome of cases opposing grant of the permit in the Delhi High Court.

“We have granted the Air Operator’s Permit (AOP or flying licence) to AirAsia India, subject to the final decision of the High Court and that is, under the directions of the Supreme Court,” DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar told PTI here.

The airline’s parent company, Malaysian carrier AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted: “History has been made today in Aviation. Everything has been hard for Airasia but we never give up. Today Airasia India has got APPROVAL.”

“Our CEO @MittuChandilya with Air Operators permit. What a battle that was. proud day for me and all airasia stars,” Fernandes said in a following tweet.

Chandilya also tweeted: “Boom! 1815hrs(IST) on wednesday AirAsiaIndia was born. So proud of my team. Who is ready to revolutionize Air Travel in India.”

AirAsia India, whose top officials have promised to offer low and competitive airfares, would have Chennai as its hub and would focus on connecting Tier-II cities to begin with.

The start-up carrier has just completed final inspections, including proving flights of its Airbus A-320, monitored by the DGCA. These test flights went on for over 10 hours across five sectors as per the DGCA regulations.

AirAsia India is a joint venture partnership between Malaysian carrier AirAsia, Tata Sons Limited and Arun Bhatia’s Telestra Tradeplace Private Limited.

Reacting to the development, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is among the petitioners in the High Court, “condemned” it and said it was done in “reckless disregard of the rules and regulations”.

In a statement, he said, “The matter had been under the purview of the Election Commission as a violation of the model code and was before the Delhi High Court on the directions of the Supreme Court. Therefore, the hurry of the government is inexplicable.”

He further said the “obscene hurry” to grant the licence before a new government came into being suggested corruption.

AirAsia India plans to have a 10-aircraft fleet within a year of start of its operations and these planes would be drawn from A-320 family of aircraft ordered by the AirAsia Group. On March 22, AirAsia India received its first A-320 aircraft configured in an all-economy layout with 180 seats.

The airline would initially focus on connecting non-metro towns and replicate its low-cost, no-frills model that has seen considerable success in Southeast Asia.

The USD 30 million venture was the first airline to be launched after the FDI norms in aviation were amended in September 2012.

While AirAsia owns 49 per cent stake in the Indian carrier, Tata Sons has 30 per cent and Telstra Tradeplace holding the remaining.

The final clearance by the DGCA came after it disposed of about 20 objections from various parties, including Federation of Indian Airlines, Subramanian Swamy and others.

Most of them had argued that FDI by foreign airlines had been allowed into existing Indian arilines, not for creating joint venture start-ups. They had also claimed that the new airline would disrupt industry equilibrium.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board had given its approval for AirAsia’s investment in April, following which the Civil Aviation Ministry gave a ‘no-objection certificate’ in September 2013.

The airline has appointed a Tata Sons veteran S Ramadorai as its Chairman.

The other Board members of the Mumbai-registered company are Fernandes, R Venkatraman, a former executive assistant to former Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata, Bharat Vasani, the chief legal counsel of the Tata group, and Telstra’s Arun Bhatia.

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