Chennai: The much-awaited AirAsia India on Friday announced its maiden flight from Bangalore to Goa for Rs 990 starting June 12. The airline will open the bookings on Friday evening on its website, AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya said.
"Our collective goal is that every Indian should have an opportunity to fly. We have our plane parked here already", he told reporters.
AirAsia India's offer of Rs 990 including taxes is likely to now force other carriers to review fares on this sector on the same day, which now cost around Rs 5,000 one-way.
To a query, on the airline total load factor, he said, "I would love to have 100 per cent load factor. But 60 per cent will be reasonable. For the fare we are going with Bangalore-Goa. It will be Rs 990 inclusive of taxes," he said.
Asked about other airlines mulling reduction in airfares, he said, "Frankly, my view on that is it will help companies to rationalise costs. That is the way, I look at it."
AirAsia India will begin operating flights from June 12, with ticket sales having started on Friday, the new carrier's Malaysian parent AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said.
AirAsia India, a joint venture between AirAsia, Tata Sons Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace, was granted flying licence by aviation regulator DGCA earlier this month after 9-month-long wait and various legal hurdles. Fernandes had on Thursday announced the launch of flights on micro blogging platform Twitter, saying that the "first flight (will be on) June 12" and ticket sales will open on Friday.
The existing carriers operating in India include low-cost private players like IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, as also full service airlines like Jet Airways and state-run Air India. AirAsia has been preparing its ground-work for launch of flights since a long time, including by putting in place the required manpower including Mittu Chandilya as its CEO.
AirAsia India, whose top officials have promised to offer low and competitive airfares, will focus on connecting Tier-II cities to begin with. The start-up carrier recently completed inspections, including the Airbus A-320 craft, monitored by the DGCA. These test flights went on for over 10 hours across five sectors as per the DGCA regulations.
AirAsia India plans to have a 10-aircraft fleet within a year of start of 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.
"We will be launching flights in about two to three months. We would soon be filing our flight schedules for approval from the DGCA, and after the approval we would seek slots at the different airports," Chandilya had said after getting flying license on May 7.
The new airline was also looking at destinations including Trichy, Kochi and Kolkata, he said. Asked about the fares, he had said they will be about 35 per cent lower than the current market rate. Earlier this year, Fernandes had said that AirAsia India would offer "dramatically low" airfares and would take air travel to masses in the country.
Known to have revolutionised the airline market in Malaysia and some other Asian countries through low-cost airfares, AirAsia chief had said that the strategy for India would be to offer "cheapest" possible tickets. "We have to be the cheapest and stimulate the market. We have to allow the common man to fly. That is my message to India that flying is not only for the rich," he said.
High taxes and other costs have been a major reason for AirAsia thinking to start its domestic flights in India with Chennai as a hub and not the bigger centres like Delhi and Mumbai. AirAsia is however hopeful that more state governments would open to the idea of lowering air travel costs.
(With additional information from PTI)