AirAsia chief upbeat about India operations

AirAsia chief upbeat about India operations

AirAsia India has made "tremendous progress" in its efforts to secure approval to start operations in the populous nation, and the budget carrier could be up and running within three months of getting the green light, said AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes.

"India will start when the Indian government allows us to start," said Mr Fernandes. "We've made tremendous, tremendous progress. Let's see over the next few weeks what transpires. From the moment we get the approval, it will take us two to three months to get our act together."

AirAsia India is a joint venture between AirAsia, the Tata Group and Indian investor Arun Bhatia.

The Hindustan Times newspaper reported this week, citing sources, that a no-objection certificate from the Ministry of Civil Aviation could come as early as next week, after which the proposal would go to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for approval.

It has previously been reported that AirAsia was initially hoping to get the airline off the ground by October, ahead of the year-end peak travel season.

Mr Fernandes emphasised his bullishness with regard to aviation in India, notwithstanding the challenges facing the industry, such as high operating costs and the lack of infrastructure. "It's having the right product. It's about getting the guys who've never flown before," he said.

The budget carrier plans to serve airports in secondary and tertiary cities.

AirAsia has not given up on Japan either, following the dissolution of its joint venture - previously AirAsia Japan and now Vanilla Air - with All Nippon Airways.

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