Over a year back, I wrote about Air Asia’s launch in India, along with the Tata group. Things have moved a lot since then, and Air Asia India went through a series of regulatory clearances over the past ten months or so. There were a lot of roadblocks along the way, in the sense that the existing airlines did not want to have a new player amongst them, so they banded under Federation of Indian Airlines to try and stop access to India for this 3-way joint venture.
A few weeks ago, they received their first plane, VT-ATF from Airbus, and on May 1 and 2, they conducted their proving flights, where the staff and the regulatory officials flew as non-revenue passengers from Chennai to Cochin, Cochin to Bangalore and Bangalore to Chennai on May 1, and Chennai-Kolkata-Chennai on May 2 to assess the readiness of the airline.
Yesterday, Air Asia India received its Air Operators Permit, the last piece of documentation required to start operations. Although politicians in India think this decision should have waited because of the ongoing General Elections, I am glad DGCA is in business as usual mode and not being affected by the lack of political bosses at this moment.
From here on, Air Asia India needs to ramp up staff, get their schedules approved and put a few more things in order before they get set to fly. I am hoping to be on their inaugural flight so if someone has information on when they are taking off, please let me know to help me book a ticket.
Air Asia India’s CEO claims they will offer 35% lower fares than current Indian airlines. They’ve also made tentative plans to fly to Delhi, which they had no plans for earlier. Mumbai is still off the radar for them, and the airline will be based in Chennai for the moment.