New Delhi: Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia may soon be starting with its India operations as part of its joint deal with the Tata Group. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes on Tuesday said that it has applied for a No Objection Certificate, while Aviation Minister Ajit Singh hinted that the process won't take too long now.
"Air Asia has applied for a NOC. They have to give us a lot more information but I don't expect this to take too long," Ajit Singh said.
"What we want to bring to India is the concept that flying is not elite anymore," Tony Fernandes said.
Former Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata called on Ajit Singh on Tuesday ahead of the meeting on Wednesday between the minister and the top leadership of AirAsia and the Tata Group. Budget carrier AirAsia India, a joint operation between Air Asia and Tata, is looking to launch operations in India later this year.
"We are hopeful of starting Indian operations later this year with three aircraft serving Southern region," Tony Fernandes had earlier 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 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, 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.
(With additional information from PTI)