NEW DELHI (TIP): Indian flyers are soon going to be spoilt for choice and low fares may make a comeback. The Tata Sons’ JV budget airline with Malaysia’s AirAsia got the licence to fly from the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday.
This clearance, however, is subject to the judicial ruling in this regard as BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has moved court against forming startup airlines using FDI from foreign airlines route. The JV, AirAsia India Pvt Ltd (AAIPL), will be India’s seventh airline and aims to start flying anywhere between one to three months from now. Its CEO Mittu Chandilya says the new low-cost carrier will offer “35% lower fares” from current fare levels.
“As of now we have one Airbus A- 320 and we will induct one aircraft every month. We will like to begin operations with a fleet of three planes. While three network options have been worked out, the first flight could be out of Chennai (the airline’s hub). Initially, our network will be all the metros except Mumbai. We may fly to Delhi as leaving the national capital out of the network does not seem feasible for a national airline like AAIPL,” Chandilya said after getting the air operator’s permit from DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar.
Prabhat Kumar said: “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.” The airline marks the re-entry of the Tatas into airline business after several decades. They had tied up with Singapore Airlines (SIA) in the late 1990s to acquire a stake in Air india but due to opposition from some players in the airline business and political interference, the move fizzled out.
Once UPA-II allowed FDI by foreign airlines into Indian carriers, the Tatas came back with a bang. While Tata-AirAsia has been cleared to take off, the DGCA is in the process of granting licence to a Tata-SIA JV full service airline that should also start flying this year. AirAsia 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.” Chandilya also tweeted: “Boom! 1815hrs(IST) today AirAsiaIndia was born. So, proud of my team. Who is ready to revolutionize Air Travel in India.” But, not everyone was happy. Swamy, who is opposing the Tata JVs, ‘condemned’ the move and said it was done “reckless disregard of the rules and regulations”.