AirAsia India keen to fly on international routes, plans to recruit pilots for long-haul aircraft

AirAsia India keen to fly on international routes, plans to recruit pilots for long-haul aircraft

Sanjay Singh   New Delhi     Last Updated: April 8, 2013  | 18:37 IST

The newly formed AirAsia-Tata Group joint venture (JV) AirAsia India is keen to fly on international routes and has drawn up plans to recruit pilots for wide-bodied, long-haul aircraft.

Although rules restrict new airlines to domestic routes for the first five years of their operations, AirAsia India has sounded the government that it wants to fly to major overseas destinations, including the Gulf, Europe, the US and a few Southeast Asian countries.

"They (AirAsia) have ambitious plans and want to move forward fast. Sooner or later, we expect changes that could relax the norms for five years' experience and 20 aircraft needed for any domestic airline to fly outside India," said a senior official of the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA).

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh last week indicated that AirAsia's Indian venture faces procedural problems. However, minutes of the foreign investment promotion board (FIPB) meeting held on March 6 show that the department of industrial policy and promotion had struck down the ministry's opinion.

Singh had maintained that the new airline needs a noobjection certificate from his ministry and thereafter an air transport licence from the DGCA to be declared a scheduled airline besides other clearances from airports authority of India, bureau of civil aviation security, ministry of home affairs amongst others.

The ministry had sought a clarification on press note 6 of 2012 that had claimed that foreign airlines could buy only stakes in Indian carriers but this did not match with AirAsia's proposal as the two other entities in the JV, Tata Group and Telestra Tradeplace, did not run an airline and this constituted a greenfield project not covered by the policy.

According to the minutes of the FIPB meeting, the ministry had stated that AirAsia did not fulfill the laid-down policy. It stated that the applicant (Tata Group and Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace) should set up the company, obtain a licence from it and then divest to a foreign collaborator (Malaysia's AirAsia) in order to follow the policy intent.

"If this is not so, the DIPP may issue a clarification to the effect that the press note of 2012 applied to JVs to be incorporated also," the ministry said. But the DIPP took the stand that the policy needed no clarification. "It was noted that in FDI policy wherever there was a distinction between greenfield and brownfield projects, the policy specifically mentioned so (pharma, airport etc.). Thus there was no ambiguity in the said press note and there was no need for a formal clarification."

Courtesy: Mail Today 

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