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AirAsia to start India ops with 3 aircraft later this year

Chennai, PTI | Updated : 29 June 2013, 09:46 PM

Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia on Saturday said its Indian operations should begin later this year with flights for southern region and the company would also look at setting up some ancillary businesses in the country.

“We are hopeful of starting Indian operations later this year with three aircraft serving Southern region,” AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes told reporters in Chennai.

The airline would expand its services to other parts of the country in the second stage, he said.

AirAsia would also look at setting up ancillary services like air travel insurance and duty free shops in the country, said Mr. Fernandes who came to Chennai on Saturday morning.

AirAsia has already put in place a strong leadership team for its India operations, which is a joint venture with Tatas and Telestra Tradeplace.

Former TCS chief S. Ramadorai has been appointed Chairman, while top industry leader Ratan Tata has been named as chief adviser to the board of AirAsia India.

Besides, R. Venkataraman (former executive assistant to Ratan Tata) and Bharat Vasani (chief legal counsel of the Tata Group), are among the directors on the board.

AirAsia India is a joint venture of Air Asia, Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace with 49:30:21 holding.

AirAsia will be represented by Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Bin Meranu. Last month, Mr. Fernandes had named Mittu Chandilya as the CEO of AirAsia India.

AirAsia is expected to bring in competitive pricing in the Indian aviation market with its “nano” airfares.

These announcements had come within days after Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said all the issues regarding AirAsia’s India applications had been resolved.

Stating that his dream was to offer flight connectivity to every individual, Fernandes said: "I want to make sure everyone can fly. I want make sure someone who has taken a train for nine hours, can now fly for 45 minutes, for some one who took four days to come to Chennai, to do it in three hours. Thats my dream."

To a query on why he opted for Chennai as base for its airline operations, Fernandes said millions of opportunities are available in Southern region.

"I just loved the South. South is great. There are millions of people, and millions of tourist potential and millions of business opportunities. We are very happy with the south," he said.

When pointed out Mumbai and New Delhi account for almost 50 per cent of airline business, he said, "Yeah, but we will change that. Singapore was the King of air travel. We have rebalanced that.

Malaysia is a big hub. So, Chennai will become the new king. We are kings. we will be the Chennai Super Kings of cost (in offering airline services)."

AirAsia has already put in place a strong leadership team for its India operations. Former TCS chief S Ramadorai has been appointed Chairman, while top industry leader Ratan Tata has been named as chief adviser to the board of AirAsia India.

Besides, R Venkataraman (former executive assistant to Ratan Tata) and Bharat Vasani (chief legal counsel of the Tata Group), are among the directors on the board.

AirAsia will be represented by Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Bin Meranu. Last month, Fernandes had named Mittu Chandilya as the CEO of AirAsia India.

Fernandes said the company would also look at generating revenues by offering ancillary services.

First Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 09:45 PM
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