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AirAsia, Tata Sons to start domestic airlines

Posted on Feb 20, 08:22PM | IANS

Chennai, Feb 20 : Asia's leading low cost carrier AirAsia Berhad (AirAsia) plans to start an airlines in India, joining hands with Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace, and has approached the Indian Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for investment.

In a statement issued Wednesday, AirAsia said it has sought FIPB's approval for investing 49 percent in a proposed Indian joint venture together with Tata Sons Ltd and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace Pvt Ltd.

According to AirAsia, the investment will be through its investment arm AirAsia Investment Ltd (AAIL).

"This move comes in the backdrop of the September 2012 decision by the Government of India to open up the aviation sector to Foreign Direct Investment from foreign carriers," the statement added.

Subject to FIPB approval, the proposed joint venture company will make an application to Indian aviation regulators for the Air Operators Permit. The parties have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that details terms with regard to the proposed partnership.

As a pioneer of the low cost carrier (LCC) model in Asia and currently Asia's largest LCC with 118 aircraft and over 350 orders, AirAsia believes Indian aviation has enormous long-term growth potential and is expected to produce tremendous upside for first movers.

The joint venture plans to operate from Chennai, Tamil Nadu focused on providing domestic Tier II/Tier III city connectivity to Indian travellers.

Currently, AirAsia, through its operations based in Thailand and Malaysia, already connect Chennai, Bangalore, Tiruchirappalli, Kochi and Kolkata to ASEAN.

"We have carefully evaluated developments in India over the last few years and strongly believe that the current environment is perfect to introduce AirAsia's low fares which stimulate travel and help the market grow," AirAsia founder and group CEO Tony Fernandes was quoted as saying in the statement.