AirAsia’s India entry wins investment panel approval
NEW DELHI (AFP) – Asia’s largest low-cost carrier AirAsia won approval from India’s foreign investment panel Wednesday to set up an airline in a joint venture with the giant Tata group, a government official said.
AirAsia, one of the pioneers of low-cost air travel in Asia, already connects Southeast Asia with some Indian cities such as Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi and Kolkata through its operations in Thailand and Malaysia.
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has “approved AirAsia’s proposal to enter the civil aviation sector”, an Indian finance ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes, a former record industry executive who took over insolvent AirAsia in 2001 and turned it into one of the aviation sector’s biggest success stories, tweeted the news was “exciting”.
“Thank you all,” he said, adding: “People and companies with good intentions to create jobs and make life of the average man better will always win.”
AirAsia, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, will have a 49 per cent stake while India’s Tata Group will hold 30 percent. The remainder will be held by entrepreneur Arun Bhatia’s Telstra Tradeplace.
The venture now has to obtain a flying licence from India’s aviation regulator, among other steps, and is aiming to start operations in May-June, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday.